32 July-August 2024
A
s a leadership contest was building
up in their party, two well-regarded
outgoing Green MEPs, Grace
O’Sullivan and Ciaran Cue, took
time to reflect on their experience in
the European Parliament. Their responses to
Village’s questions are printed below.
What one word would you use to best
describe the European Parliament?
Grace O’Sullivan
Exhilarating.
Ciarán Cue
Complex.
How would you describe your experi-
ences in the European Parliament?
Grace O’Sullivan
It was a huge eye-opener - even after working in
the Seanad for 3 years, I found the whole
process of legislating and making change to be
enormous and a real slog to get things over the
line. But when we find the consensus amongst
the politicians, it is very rewarding.
Ciarán Cue
It was exhilarating and fulfilling. The parliament
is the most amazing collection of idealists,
change-makers, rogues and villains. To be part
of that assembly is one of the most privileged
positions in politics, and I absolutely enjoyed
my time there.
What is the most surprising thing you learnt
about the European Parliament when you first
became a member?
Grace O’Sullivan
Unfortunately there is a strong element
working against progress in the Parliament -
it’s quite scary. They’re happy to ignore the
issues that are aecting people and the
bigger issues, either because they don’t care
or have other, vested interests.
Ciarán Cue
I soon realised that it is not enough to lobby
your MEP colleagues on legislation. You have
to engage with members of the Council of
Ministers, the European Commission,
Industry and Civil Society.
What was your most frustrating
experience in the European Parliament?
Grace O’Sullivan
There was no interest in Palestine before
October 7th. I sat on the Parliaments Delegation
for Relations with Palestine for five years and we
were constantly raising human rights issues
and violations of international law.
Ciarán Cue
Legislation can move slowly, and it appears that
some of the high-level lobbying is not conducted
in public. As always money talks, and vested
interests are powerful.
What one thing would you change to improve
the European Parliament?
Grace O’Sullivan
I believe the European Parliament should be
allowed to introduce legislation.
Ciarán Cue
I’d give the Parliament the power to initiate
legislation, rather than modify what the
European Commission proposes.
Do you think the pay, conditions and
expenses regime for members of the parliament
are fair and appropriate?
Grace O’Sullivan
Transparency and accountability should be
improved by MEPs and the Parliament itself, the
Greens/EFA group pushed for better measures
to be introduced in the Parliament to improve
this, but there was pushback from other groups.
I voluntarily logged all my meetings and
expenses for the time I was elected.
Green reections
Make European Parliament more transparent
and give it power to initiate legislation
By J Vivian Cooke
Ciarán Cue
I’d like to see greater transparency on lobbying
and expenses, as I suspect some are gaming
the system. It is however a tough, stressful and
demanding job, so decent pay is appropriate.
What do you think of the parliamentary
group with which you sat?
Grace O’Sullivan
Creative, eclectic and devoted. The Greens/EFA
group is very cohesive and we were very
cooperative and collaborative in our 5 years.
Ciarán Cue
The Greens/EFA has experienced and dedicated
sta, which allowed me to hit the ground
running as a first-time MEP back in 2019. Their
institutional memory is invaluable for newly
elected MEPS.
What will you miss most about being an
MEP?
Grace O’Sullivan
The opportunity to influence legislation - I really
think I personally got stu done in my 5 years
that others wouldn’t have.
Ciarán Cue
I really enjoyed the access to highly skilled
experts in their chosen fields. I also enjoyed
working with political representatives and their
sta from the length and breadth of Europe.
What worries you most about the future
of Europe?
Grace O’Sullivan
Fascists. We have so many challenges coming
down the track and they have nothing good to
oer - only hate and division.
Ciarán Cue
I’m concerned about the disconnect between
European decision-making and media
commentary back home. Ireland’s media
representation in Brussels is low compared to
other smaller Member States, and this means
that the complexity of decision-making is not
well-reported at home.
POLITICS

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