Liam Aylward is a member of the Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and vice-chairman of the Temporary Committee on Climate Change. He was recently awarded the ‘commandeur merite agricole’ by the French government. Low-profile and not too high-powered. More agricultural than environmental.
What do you think is the role of an MEP? The primary role for an MEP is to legislate. MEPs develop policies that will affect the daily lives of people throughout the European Union. As an Irish MEP my priority is to ensure that EU legislation reflects the concerns and interests of the Irish people.
How does the official role of an MEP differ from that of other politicians? The European Union is built on consensus. In the European Parliament, there is no government party and no opposition. MEPs from across the political spectrum have to work together, resolving ideological differences.
How would you describe your politics? I always seek to represent interests of the less well-off and the disadvantaged in our communities. Within the EU I act to maximise support for key economic programmes in Ireland, such as the Common Agricultural Policy, support for new technologies and job creation.
How have you used your role as an MEP? Last year I carried out a European Parliament report into the future of the sheep and lamb processing industries in Europe. This report sets out a blueprint for the reform of the European sheep farming sector. This is a sector that needs financial support if it is to remain viable and competitive into the future.
I authored a report on the elimination of child labour, which included recommendations to make European businesses responsible for ensuring all steps of the supply chain are child labour free. Along with my Fianna Fáil colleagues, I made a comprehensive submission to the British Government on the nuclear energy sector in Britain. I called for the EU to take a greater role in policing and regulating sites like Sellafield.
Can you tell us your total claimed expenses for the last five years? MEPs receive allowances for the running of their offices and the employment of staff. The administration of MEPs’ allowances is strictly regulated. I comply with the rules and regulations of the European Parliament.
Is that a reasonable figure and why? MEPs are allocated these allowances so that we can carry out our work to the best of our ability in Europe and in Ireland.
Jobs for the boys Son
Cowen Not shy
Funny? Not yet
Is the European Parliament directly or indirectly employing or paying for relatives of yours to do work on your behalf? I have a son employed as part of my European Parliament team.
Are you happy with the voting group with which you or your political party is allied? In the European Parliament there is no whip operating and we vote as individuals or with our national party.
What do you think about the Lisbon treaty? The Irish government is seeking to address the key concerns of the Irish electorate as voiced in the last referendum. We have already secured the right to appoint a Commissioner at all times and we are seeking legal certainties on a range of key matters.
The Lisbon Treaty was drawn up so that the EU could carry out its business in more simplified and effective manner. We need the EU to work well and to deliver for its citizens, and the Lisbon Treaty is designed to help the EU do just this.
What do you think about Brian Cowen’s performance? The Taoiseach is leading our country through one of the most difficult periods we have experienced in many years with integrity and dignity, and has not shied away from making hard decisions. The Taoiseach knows that leadership is about making the difficult choices that will safeguard the social and economic future of our country.
Is there anything else you’d like to say? Now is the time for Ireland to embrace the EU project. The European Union is supporting Irish economic recovery in a number of positive ways.
Tell us a joke. If I get elected on 5 June, I will tell you all the jokes you want to hear!