Meet Your MEP - Grace O’Sullivan

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Meet Your MEP - Grace O'Sullivan

Grace O'Sullivan is an Irish politician who has been a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Ireland for the South constituency since July 2019. She is a member of the Green Party, part of the European Green Party. Grace is also known for her activism during a 20-year career with environmental NGO Greenpeace. She is a former Irish surfing champion and has worked for a number of years as an environmental education specialist and ecologist.

Apart from representing your country (or region) and getting to work with your fellow MEPs, what is the best thing about being an MEP?
The best thing about being an MEP is that it gives me the opportunity to carry on doing the work I have been doing for almost 40 years. I have been an environment and peace activist since I was a teenager. I worked with Greenpeace for 20 years and the work I do now is bringing the same concerns and issues into the political arena where I can carry on trying to create change.
What is the one thing that you hope to achieve at EU level in the next session that would affect young people’s day-to-day life in Ireland?
There are many things I hope to achieve at EU level, but fundamentally my work, as I have already said, is about trying to create change. To that end the work I do in the Environment and Fisheries committees is really important. Equally important though is the work I do in trying to communicate and educate and raise awareness around important issues that affect the future of humankind and the planet.
Apart from Brexit, what is the biggest challenge facing Europe today and how can the European Parliament help to tackle?
The biggest threat facing Europe today is the biggest threat facing the world – Climate Change. We are in an emergency. Thankfully the young climate activists throughout the world understand this and are taking the lead in demanding action.
Which subject you studied in school is the most useful to you in your role as an MEP?
There were a number of subjects in school that were useful to me in my role as an MEP. Can I pick two? Geography and English. Geography because my work both in parliament and over my years in Greenpeace, had an international and ecological dimension to them. Geography gave me a great grounding in understanding how the world is made up physically and culturally. English has helped me in terms of having the language and ability to express myself and get important messages out there. History was also an important subject in terms of getting a foundation in the timelines of world events that have shaped who we are today. That’s three subjects! Obviously maths wasn’t my greatest strength!
What would you like to tell your 16 year old self?
What would I like to tell my 16-year-old self? I’d like to tell my 16-year-old self that your 57-year-old self isn’t all that different to who you are. I’d like to tell my 16-year-old self that the idealism and hopes and dreams of teenage Grace  have shaped the hopes and dreams and ambitions of the woman that Grace is now. I hope I never lose that connection, because it keeps me going. I think that ‘connection’ might be summed up in one word: hope. I am still optimistic, still hopeful despite the topsy-turvy state of the world in many ways.


In a year when Brexit has dominated the news and political agendas, the value of the European Union and Ireland’s place in it has probably never been so significant for young people. The #DidEUknow Young Social Innovators campaign aims to deepen awareness amongst young people of the role that the EU plays in their daily lives.

The campaign is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs Communicating Europe Initiative.