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New MEPs will need to make European Parliament 'sexy', candidates say

"A parliament or institution is only going to be sexy if it is doing things that are relevant to people's lives. Otherwise, it's not going to be particularly attractive."

New MEPs will need to make European Parliament 'sexy', candidates say

New MEPs need to find a way to make the European Parliament "sexy" if they are to entice the public to pay more attention to the vital legislation being discussed by the EU.

Candidates in the Dublin constituency discussed this tactic in the latest in a series of European election hustings yesterday, two weeks out from the continent-wide MEP election day.

Speaking after a new opinion poll was published, Fine Gael TD Frances Fitzgerald, Fianna Fáil's Barry Andrews, Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan and Independents4Change TD Clare Daly said changes are needed in Brussels.

In a debate which also included Greens councillor Ciaran Cuffe and Labour councillor Alex White, they said the reality is that most people will not engage with the EU unless it is discussing issues linked to their everyday lives.

Asked during an Association of European Journalists debate at Buswell's Hotel in Dublin if there is a need to make the European Parliament's work more "sexy" in order to ensure it appeals to more people, Mr White said: "A parliament or institution is only going to be sexy if it is doing things that are relevant to people's lives. Otherwise, it's not going to be particularly attractive."

Ms Daly said she agreed, but said the apparent lack of interest in EU debates is also because of media owners' focus on "the latest scandal" instead of legislative scrutiny.

The debate also heard Ms Daly and Ms Boylan warn that Brexit and Donald Trump's election as US president are symptoms of problems in connecting the public with politics and not simply down to ignorance. Ms Boylan said she believes the EU is moving closer to militarisation and that this needs to be addressed, while Mr Cuffe promoted his environmental track record and Mr Andrews said Ireland's "strongest" should be sent to combat Brexit.

The candidates were speaking after a new opinion poll placed Ms Fitzgerald on 22%, Mr Andrews on 18%, Ms Boylan on 13% and Ms Daly on 10% - a potential MEP line-up Ms Fitzgerald dismissed as "not a vote" has been cast yet.

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