Meet Your MEP - Maria Walsh

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Meet Your MEP - Maria Walsh

Maria Walsh has been a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Ireland for the Midlands–North-West constituency since July 2019. She is a member of Fine Gael, part of the European People's Party. Outside of politics, she is known for winning the 2014 Rose of Tralee pageant.

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 role I believe I must play over the coming five years and the expectations I have on my team and myself is high. The opportunity to represent the area I grew up in, the citizens I know and the diversity that lives within the Midlands North-West is phenomenal. I have amazing opportunities to connect with our schools and listen, ask and talk to our future leaders, and our game changers. The best thing about being an MEP is the decision and choice to be active in the communities across the country, not just Midlands North-West. I also get to share my story and encourage people to get involved. I am new to politics and we need to ensure our politics is a true reflection of our communities; all cultures, all backgrounds, all orientations, both men and women.  

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?
After the end of my first mandate I want my Team and I to have secured a European Year of Good Mental Health, with Ireland playing a leading role for our Union. We must lift the negative stigma of mental health, deliver educational programmes and shift policy and legislative decisions to support and show our citizens we can be leaders for positive mental health. The mental health of our citizens, in particular our young people, is integral. The EU has to play its role in driving the message across the Union. We can not discuss or progress the health of our citizens if mental health is not at the core of the conversation. 

Apart from Brexit, what is the biggest challenge facing Europe today and how can the European Parliament help to tackle?
Aside from Brexit, the biggest challenge facing Europe today is the rise of populism. We must challenge the divisive language we hear and see from leaders. The chosen words and actions that lead to an ‘us vs them’ rhetoric needs to end. The intensive growth of the digital world and the negative fuelling we see in ‘trolling’ and use and abuse of it needs to be addressed. We all must understand that ‘Armchair Activism’ needs to cease and if we don’t get involved, put up our hands and get active and protective of what democracy means... it will disappear. 


Which subject you studied in school is the most useful to you in your role as an MEP?
Civic Social and Political Education (CSPE) was essential. I hope to see more programmes for our younger citizens involving debating, negotiating, and public speaking become more ingrained in our educational system. 

What would you like to tell your 16 year old self?
Remember to laugh more. Try and loosen the expectations you have placed on yourself, the seriousness of finding your passion and purpose will stand to you but don’t forget to be the 16 year old too. And that person who said you weren’t ‘right’... they were wrong. You’re doing so well. Keep believing the best things will happen if you’re kind to others. Write more. Draw more. Listen more. You’re doing absolutely brilliant young lady. Believe it.


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.