Fianna Fáil has chosen two candidates to contest the European elections in the Midlands-North West region.

Sitting MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher and Meath Senator Thomas Byrne were selected by more than 600 party members at a convention in Mullingar, Co Westmeath on Saturday.

Pat the Cope Gallagher from Burtonport in Donegal currently represents the Ireland North West region at the European Parliament.  He has previously represented the people of Donegal South West in Dáil Éireann where he served as Minister of State across several Departments.

Senator Thomas Byrne, a father of three from east Meath, represented the people of Co Meath in Dáil Éireann between 2007 and 2011. He was elected to Seanad Éireann in 2011, where he currently holds the position of Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Public Expenditure.

Mr Gallagher said, “I have been extremely proud to represent the Irish people at the European Parliament for a total of 13 years.  It would be a privileged to continue in this role. My key priority is to increase the focus on job creation and growth in the North West and Midlands regions. It is vital that we leverage the funding available in the European Budget to support towns and villages that have not benefited from any recovery. I also believe we need a far greater focus on supporting our SMEs, which are the engine of growth in the Irish economy.  Europe must have a strong role in this.”

Senator Byrne commented, “Europe has the resources to make an impact on the challenges facing our people, but I believe that over the last decade Europe’s creativity, energy and direction have all suffered as the institutions struggled and largely failed to cope with the emerging financial crisis. There is now an opportunity for new voices to renew that European vision and articulate a vision for the future of our country in Europe. I believe I have the experience, passion and ideas to be a voice for the Irish people in Europe and I look forward to making my case to the people of the Midlands and North West.”

Addressing party members in Mullingar, the Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin said members have selected a first rate ticket for the Midlands-North West constituency.

Deputy Martin said, “The unanimous selection of Pat the Cope Gallagher is a fitting tribute to the great work he has done over not just the last five years but also his entire career. Pat the Cope has gone before the people in national or European election on 11 occasions and he’s won every time. You don’t build up a record like that just by being a good campaigner – it comes from delivering for the people.

“It’s great that he will be joined on the ticket by one of our most dynamic representatives and indeed one of the most effective legislators in Leinster House, senator Thomas Byrne. In the face of an ever more arrogant and out of touch government he hasn’t stepped back from the fight. He has been a leader on issues which are vital for ordinary people. Thomas has helped draft over a dozen pieces of legislation to help families trapped in debts they simply cannot manage.

“Over the last three years Fianna Fáil has taken the lead in pushing for real reform in Europe. While the other Irish parties have spent their time conforming to the existing agenda we’ve been willing to set out a new approach of a Europe which works for its citizens. We have just the right set of candidates to take this message to the doors.”