Liam Aylward has been officially selected by Fianna Fáil to contest the forthcoming European election in which he will seek to retain the seat he first won in 2004.
Following his nomination last weekend Mr Aylward set out his reasons for standing again.
“I want to go back to Brussels and work with the European Commission, EU Governments and with fellow MEPs on putting place more EU programmes so as to help in the economic recovery of our country,” he said.
Outlining the EU’s benefits to party colleagues (as he did in this newspaper in April 10th), Mr Aylward cited the Common Agricultural Policy’s role in supporting domestic farmers.
“Ireland has many allies in Europe who support the Common Agricultural Policy,” added Mr Aylward.
“When the Irish pig sector got into some difficulties before last Christmas, the European Commission provided over €25 million on top of Irish Government support to ensure that this sector remained viable and competitive…
“The sheep sector is in need of critical support and I support the need for unused CAP funds, which is valued at €23 million per year in Ireland to be directed to this sector over the next five years.”
Mr Aylward also referenced:
* The €30 million that Ireland is to receive under the EU’s economic stimulus package
* The €110 million that Brussels is directing to Ireland to construct a new electricity interconnector to Wales, and
* The role played by the European Social Fund is providing “much needed educational and training opportunities” to people in Ireland.
Stated Liam Aylward: “The bottom line is that it is clearly in Ireland’s economic interest to stay at the heart of the European Union project. Now more than ever, we need the European Union.
“Moving away from Europe and detaching ourselves from the European Union project simply sends out the wrong message to international investors. But as the European Union integrates more closely, we must always protect different cultural, linguistic and national diversities.”
Since first assuming his European brief, Liam Aylward believes he has “always been to the forefront in protecting Irish consumers”.
He added: “I have always lobbied and voted for EU financial support for cross border development projects such as the International Fund for Ireland, the Interreg programmes and the EU Peace Fund for Ireland.”
In his April 10th interview with The Munster Express, Mr Aylward said: “It’s always busy here in Brussels, but that’s the nature of the job.
“It’s a challenge that I’ve relished since I first came out here five years ago and it’s something I’d love to continue beyond the June election. But obviously that’s up to the voters.”