Mairead McGuinness became the second Irish person to be elected vice-president of the European Parliament when she got the second highest number of votes from her fellow MEPs.
Her success came amid rumours that Taoiseach Enda Kenny may put her name forward as one of two nominees for the European Commission.
He is expected to nominate Environment Minister and his right hand man in Fine Gael, Phil Hogan, but all countries have been asked to send two names, one of them a woman.
Tánaiste and outgoing Labour leader Eamon Gilmore confirmed he would be interested but added: “That is not for me to decide, that is for the Taoiseach and the new leader of the Labour Party to make a recommendation.”
Ms McGuinness’s success came just weeks after she failed to win a similar but less prestigious position in the European Peoples Party group, a post she held for the past year.
The four Fine Gael members are having a good start to their five-year term, with former junior minister in finance, Brian Hayes, getting a seat on the European Parliament’s economics committee.
This high-profile committee, which contributed greatly to the EU’s new national budget rules, was in great demand by MEPs and during the last term Ireland only managed to get Gay Mitchell on it as a substitute member.
South MEP Sean Kelly retained his seat on the industry, research, and energy committee, where he was responsible for legislation on data protection. He is also on the international trade committee.
Ms McGuinness kept her seat on the agriculture and environment committees, while newcomer Deirdre Clune is nominated for seats on the transport and employment committees.
Sinn Féin’s Liadh Ní Riada, a newcomer to the Parliament, has secured seats on the fisheries and budgets committees and will be a substitute on culture and education.
She says she will hit the ground running with meetings with fishermen in Kilmore Quay and some other ports over the next few days. “They have been so hard-hit — no social welfare when their boats are tied up, some families are depending on the children’s allowance to survive,” she said.
She will also be voting to ensure the globalisation fund that helps fund redundant workers retraining remains and will be urging the Government to remove the derogation on the Irish language being used to the full extent in the EU institutions.
Independent MEP Marian Harkin will return to the Employment committee for which she produced reports on their legislation, including on the role of the troika, and she will be a substitute on economics and petitions committees.
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