FleishmanHillard Brussels flew the Irish flag over their offices (well, metaphorically speaking) last week when over 70 of Ireland’s diaspora gathered to meet 20 of Ireland’s candidates for the upcoming European Parliament and Local Council Elections, in support of the Irish NGO, Women for Election.
The event presented a unique opportunity not just to meet the candidates ahead of the elections on the 23rd May, but to hear keynote speeches from three European figures on their own campaign experiences.
New European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly spoke of her trials and tribulations in running her campaign last year, while Swedish MEP Mikael Gustafsson (Chair of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality) and German MEP Silvana Koch-Mehrin, illustrated the ups and downs of running for parliamentary positions.
The discussion also touched on the imminent challenges facing the European Parliament and all MEP candidates ahead of the elections, such as connecting with the people of Europe and generating greater clarity on the role, relevance and responsibilities of the EU.
Our host partners for the event – Women for Election co-founders Niamh Gallagher and Michelle O’Donnell Keating – underlined the specific difficulties women face in entering politics and described their efforts as a non-partisan movement to achieve gender equality in government both in Ireland and at the European level.
In a year of institutional change, this particular gathering revealed some of the issues facing both individual MEP candidates and Europe’s political leadership as a whole in the run up to the elections.