The Green Party has today announced that 28-year-old Achill islander Saoirse McHugh will contest the upcoming European elections in the Midlands-North-West constituency for the party.
An islander and an environmentalist, Saoirse sits on the boards of the Organic Growers of Ireland and Food Sovereignty Ireland and has worked on various agricultural projects throughout Central America and with the Irish Seed Savers Association in Co. Clare.
She holds a masters degree in Sustainable Agriculture, and was involved with proposals to create a Common Food Policy for the EU and add a ‘Rights of Nature’ bill to the Irish constitution. She has campaigned on climate change, community resilience and biodiversity loss.
Speaking today, Saoirse said: “My message is clear and simple – changes are coming and if we don’t take control of them, we will be hung out to dry.”
Living on Achill Island, Saoirse is well aware of the challenges facing rural communities. “Where I’m from, depopulation is the biggest issue; we’ve got as many empty houses as full ones. Wherever you go the problems vary, but often the solutions are the same. If communities can begin to imagine and push for the environmentally sustainable future we need, we can grow and thrive, environmentally, socially, and economically. This won’t just happen; we have to make it happen. We have to own the change.
“The EU has the scale and scope to deliver on policies which can really benefit the people of Midlands-North-West, and Ireland as a whole, but they need to be implemented – in energy sovereignty, in ensuring resilient communities, and in taking advantage of the transition coming in our economy. That’s why the Midlands-North-West needs a progressive, Green voice in Europe – to ensure that we have a say in and can benefit from climate action.
“We’ve got Brexit, climate breakdown, floods, droughts and storms all on the horizon, and this region will be hardest hit. But if we move now and own the transition, we’ve got a chance not just to survive but to thrive.
“If we wait too long, we’ll have much less of a say in our future.”
Announcing Saoirse’s candidacy, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said: “I’m delighted to welcome Saoirse as a fresh new voice in Irish politics. With her background, drive and vision, she’d make an impressive advocate for the kind of future planning the people of Midlands-North-West need, planning that Ireland needs to be part of at a European level. I have no doubt she’s going to mount a strong challenge to win a seat for the Green Party, as green issues have never been higher on the Irish people’s agenda.”
Download high-resolution images of Saoirse here. Photographer credit: John Nikolai.
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