Nessa Childers, MEP for Ireland East, visited Newbridge on Friday to meet with town officials and to see the work done by local organisations.
Having been elected in 2009, Ms Childers sits in the European Parliament as a member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. She is chair of the Mental Health Interest Group, andhas a wide range of concerns, from food labelling to climate change to mental health.
As well as her work in Brussels, she has also been very active at home in her constituency, as she explained to the Leinster Leader.
“Here, I would be very much involved in things like Tidy Towns Committees and with local government. In other European countries, local government has more power than here. MEPs have a lot of connections with local government because the legislation – for instance about water and the environment – is very much connected to Europe.”
Ms Childers’ visit to Newbridge started at the Riverbank Theatre and a meeting with town clerk Ann Greene and Deaglan De Paor, chairman of Newbridge Tidy Towns committee. Together they walked to the town park, a major Tidy Towns project.
Later the Labour MEP visited Liffey Studio where she met Peter Hussey of Newbridge Youth Theatre and Crooked House Theatre Company. The next stage of her visit was to the Newbridge Silverware Visitor Centre to meet Showroom Manager, Majella O’Sullivan. This was followed by lunch in the centre’s restaurant. She ended her visit to the town by speaking to Christy Lynch, CEO of the charity organisation KARE.
Ms Childers says she is in Brussels four days a week and usually visits parts of the constituency on Fridays and sometimes on Thursday afternoons or on Saturdays.
“It’s quite a balancing act to do,” she said. “But it’s actually probably no more difficult than it is for a TD; in fact I think it may be easier. National representatives seem to have to go to things seven days a week. I wouldn’t do that; no MEPs would. I think your health would suffer; it’s just impossible.”
Speaking about some of her work in Europe, the former Green Party member warned about the dangers of delaying tackling climate change.
“It’s quite difficult in the present economic circumstances. People’s concern about the environment has gone down. They’re worried about their financial situation. My feeling about the environment and resources is that we will leave this financial crisis eventually and, as one of my colleagues said, we will find ourselves in front of another mountain, another crisis and it won’t be so easy to get around.”