By Ann Marie Foley - 11 February, 2014
Independent Senator Rónán Mullen launched his European Election campaign last week emphasising his desire to champion the protection of life, the needs of families, communities and vulnerable people.
However, he told CatholicIreland.net that for most people around Ireland, it is the ‘bread and butter’ issues that concern them; paying the bills, getting a job, emigration, rural isolation and depopulation, and the economy.
“I want to see an Ireland where people can live and love and start a family in the places that they come from if that is their choice,” he explained.
“It is terrible to see that a lot of people do not have the ability, not just to survive, but to thrive in their home places,” Senator Mullen told CatholicIreland.net.
He added that issues such as the right to life, the importance of the family and marriage come up quiet frequently at European level.
“Everyone wants to promote inclusivity and non-discrimination more, but at European level that is done in a way that stifles people’s consciences and I would absolutely oppose that. I think every state should have to have the right to develop its laws, and protect its culture and traditions,” Senator Mullen said.
However, in the small print it goes into areas not within EU competence such as education, he warned.
“We want our schools to be able to reflect the decency, ethos and values of the community that established them.”
“What we don’t want is a group of bureaucrats in Brussels saying ‘instruct your Department of Education in Dublin to ensure you can’t teach this and you may teach that’. That is not acceptable and it is not what the EU is supposed to be about and I don’t think it is what Irish people vote for.”
He has some experience in European politics as he was on the Irish parliamentary delegation to the Council of Europe.
“I stood up for the right of conscientious objection to abortion for doctors. I tabled numerous amendments to a controversial report that would restrict rights to conscientious objection, under the guise of protecting healthcare.”
“I built working relationships and I succeeded in my efforts. I hope to use that same skill set if elected to represent Midlands North West in May,” he said at the launch of his European Election campaign at Galway’s Ardilaun Hotel last week.
He said Irish people had lost trust in politics and there was a real need to change the political culture of blind party loyalty.
Senator Mullen said that too often established politicians were not critical of Europe and it was important to make sure that the European Union worked for Ireland and that not all EU funding was availed of.
Rónán Mullen comes from a rural background. He is a farmer’s son from Ahascragh in East Galway. He first came to politics as student in University College Galway where he was president of the students union.
He was a columnist for the Irish Examiner and the Daily Mail before running for the Seanad where he was re-elected for a second term.
As well as his work in Seanad Éireann, he lectures in law at the Institute of Technology in Blanchardstown in Dublin.