Meet Your MEP - Mairead McGuiness

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Meet Your MEP - Mairead McGuiness

Mairead McGuinness is the First Vice-President of the European Parliament and represents the Midlands-North-West constituency of Ireland. As First Vice-President, she oversees relations with national parliaments, in particular with the EU affairs committees of Member State parliaments. Mairead has been an MEP since 2004.

Apart from representing your country (or region) and getting to work with your fellow MEPs, what is the best thing about being an MEP?
Making a difference is what politics is all about and as an MEP it is possible to do that. For me that is the best and most important part of the job. It is also very good to know that across member states we have similar challenges and that working together helps us shape better policies.
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?
Adequate EU funding for projects such as Erasmus + and initiatives like the rail pass for 18 year olds are important. But the really big challenge which will affect today’s and tomorrow’s youth is the re-focusing of our economic model on sustainability. Climate change and biodiversity loss are major issues and Europe has to lead on them so that the rest of the world will follow. Bringing about a least damaging Brexit deal is also on my agenda and the ongoing uncertainty is a problem.
Apart from Brexit, what is the biggest challenge facing Europe today and how can the European Parliament help to tackle?
False news and fake facts are a huge problem for Europe and also the world. We are confronted with vast quantities of information every second on our phone screens and it can be hard to tell what is true and what is not. In the European Parliament we are working to raise awareness of this serious problem.

We also need to promote education and critical thinking capacities so that we will be able to at least retain an open mind and question the source of information we receive and not accept everything in blind belief.
Which subject you studied in school is the most useful to you in your role as an MEP?
I was very fond of debating in secondary school and also love poetry. But more importantly I was always questioning how things are and how they might need to change.

At university, I studied Agricultural economics and I’m on the Agricultural & Environment, Food Safety and Public Health Committees and I find myself falling back on concepts from college to guide me in policy making.

What would you like to tell your 16 year old self?
Please don’t cut your hair so short 
And you have to face your fears to grow and thrive: listen, learn and laugh (out loud)!


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.