Ireland is a great country – the Irish people are a great people.
Since my selection as Sinn Féin EU candidate for the Midlands North West constituency I have been meeting with communities who are, heroically working to make their towns, villages and parishes better places to live and rear a family.
And it struck me, in almost every field the Irish punch above our weight.
In sports our boxers, soccer players, rugby players and others have excelled while the GAA remains the envy of indigenous sports across the world.
In business the Irish are renowned for their hard work and sheer grit.
Our farmers are known throughout the world for the quality of their produce.
Irish musicians, writers and artists have reached scales unmatched for such a small nation.
Whatever the field, the Irish are known for our strong hearts and our determined nature.
The only arena where this is not the case is politics. The reputation of Ireland has been damaged by our politicians.
Irish governments for too long have been weak, ineffective and corrupt. And the MEP's currently returned from the Midlands North West have been abysmal failures as our representatives in Europe.
Whether they have been Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or Independent they have accepted every dictat that has come from Europe. Whenever the choice was before them between European institutions or the interests of the Irish people they have, to their shame, rowed in behind the former.
They now join our government in telling the world and the Irish people that we are in a recovery. They tell us they are doing a great job.
But all around us we can see a different story.
Across this state, in many towns and villages, it is all but impossible to find someone between the ages of 19 and thirty Monday to Friday.
The truth is that Fine Gael and Labour, just like Fianna Fáil before them, see every emigrant leaving as one less person on the live register rather than a loss to a family, community; a loss to our economy and to the Irish nation.
The truth is that the political establsihment have turned their back on communities that are being devastated by emigration.
They appear oblivious to what is happening across this state.
Do they see the villages with their closed shops and pubs?
Do they notice how the life has been drained from once thriving towns?
Do they know that school boards are anxious with concern as to where the infants classes are going to come from in 5 or 10 years time?
Do they care?
As someone who knows at first hand what emigration really means I am sickened by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil politicians dismissing the impact of emigration- talking about ‘lifestyle choices’ and telling us that young people will come back.
My parents did come back but the reality is that the vast majority of people who have left from the 50’s to the 80’s didn’t.
Many countries are richer, in every sense, because of the contribution of Irish emigrants. But Ireland is poorer because too many generations of our people have been forced to leave.
As a father of four young children and as a republican I want to see an end to the exportation of our greatest asset.
And I want those who see emigration as a solution to their failures pay the political price.
I want parents and grandparents who are angry and hurt by what recent governments have done make Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael & Labour pay for the policies that have forced their children to emigrate.
I want our MEP's who champion austerity to learn what it's like to lose their jobs.
A clear message needs to be sent on May 23rd.
We want investment, right now; we want jobs, right now; we want our young people in our country playing their part.
A strengthened mandate across this island will ensure that Sinn Féin MEP’s and Councillors force a radical change in government policy – Right now.
For too long our politicians have been seen as a walkover in Brussels. An easy touch. Happy to take a pat on the head while the EU moves further away from the collection of equal member states it was meant to be.
But, in May, the electorate can change that.
We can elect 4 Sinn Féin MEPs delivering on a platform of standing up for Ireland, of honest politics and a vision for a better Ireland and an equal Europe.
If I’m elected to the European parliament I cannot promise that the lives of the people of the Midlands North West will change overnight.
But, I do promise this – they will, for the first time, have a MEP that is part of an all Ireland team, fighting their corner, defending their interests and standing up for them.
This is a great country with great people –
Its is time our politicians reflected that.
Let’s ensure that between now and May 23rd we let every voter know that they have a choice; and let’s convince as many of them as possible to endorse Sinn Féin.
Mar a deir an sean-focail “An té nach bhfuil láidir ní folair dó a bheith glic”.
Elections are but a moment in time. But the potential is there for these EU elections to mark a pivotal moment for change.
Let’s seize it.