Photos: Aishling Conway
Young Irish people want MEPs with fresh ideas who will fight for even more opportunity for them in Europe, a Fine Gael European candidate has said.
Maria Walsh, a candidate in the European Elections running in Midlands North West, has said her campaign to date has shown her people are ready for new, younger voices in Europe. Ms Walsh will push for a tripling of funding for the Erasmus programme to ensure more young people can take up opportunities in Europe.
“This campaign has taught me that young people are interested in Europe and they want to be involved, but we need to do more to encourage them. That’s why I will fight for more funding for the Erasmus programme so that more people can take up the excellent opportunities on their doorstep.
“I want to see an Erasmus programme that caters for everyone and is more inclusive than ever before. It needs to be expanded to take in vocational training and schools. The opportunity to study and work abroad should be available to as many people as possible.
“Ireland has always sent a strong team to work across the European institutions but we need to face up to the fact that younger people aren’t taking up opportunities there in the way they used to.
“The European Commission plans to double the funding for the Erasmus programme in the next EU budget. But Fine Gael wants to go even further than that, we want to triple it to €45bn,” the candidate, who was canvassing in Kildare today, said.
“More than anyone I understand what it’s like to be underestimated for being young or taking on a new challenge. Throughout my campaign I’ve had a few occasions where people seemed surprised to see me running for Europe, almost suggesting I was cheeky for doing so. My answer to that is that Ireland needs people of all ages and experiences working for a better European future.
“Young people may have felt in the past that they were being ignored or sidelined by traditional politics - that won’t be the case from here on in.”