Senator Thomas Byrne, Fianna Fáil candidate for Europe in the Midlands-North West Constituency, has said that one of his main aims in the campaign is to offer voters the chance to elect a fresh, new voice to represent them in the European Parliament.

Senator Byrne was speaking before beginning a series of campaign visits to Midlands counties over the weekend.

Senator Byrne said, “I am running for the European Parliament because I have always had a strong interest in European affairs. I have watched with interest the increasing power the Parliament has acquired over the last number of years, especially since the Lisbon Treaty. It now has equal power of decision making with the Council of Ministers in vital areas like the EU Budget, energy policy, agriculture, health, regional development and justice. A strong case can be made that the Parliament now has more influence over people’s lives than the Dáil and this situation will increase when the new Parliament is elected in May. I want to work in the place where I can achieve most for the people.”

“To make the best use of its increased powers the European Parliament needs competent, experienced legislators who can scrutinise the increasingly complex laws that are being proposed by the European Commission and then make decisions in the best interests of the people of the Midlands-North West constituency and, indeed, of Ireland. As a practicing solicitor, I acquired a strong technical knowledge of European law, but I also have extensive practical experience in making laws in the Dáil and Seanad and I have the energy and enthusiasm to put that knowledge to work in the Parliament.

“The relevance of European politics and European decision making is becoming more apparent and I think people will notice this when they start seeing laws being passed in Europe on key issues like bank restructuring, debt restructuring and laws relating to mortgages.

In a comment following Senator Thomas Byrne’s selection as a candidate, the Fianna Fáil Leader, Micheál Martin, said, “Thomas Byrne has been one of the most effective legislators in Leinster House. He was the first member of either House to stand up to Alan Shatter as far back as the early months after the election, and he has been fearless since then. He has also been a leader on issues which are vital for people. One of the most important of these is the mortgage and household debt crisis. Thomas has helped draft over a dozen pieces of legislation to help families trapped in debts they simply cannot manage.