Sitting MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament Mairead McGuinness, along with Maria Walsh, have been selected by Fine Gael to contest the European Parliament elections in May.

Speaking about Ms McGuinness' track record at the Midlands North-West convention this evening, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: "Mairead has represented this constituency and our country with distinction over the past 15 years.

"As the first Vice President of the European Parliament she has played a vital role on a range of issues, most notably agriculture and rural affairs, the environment, public health, food safety, and security.

"During the negotiations on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy she was the lead negotiator for the EPP Group, the largest political grouping of which Fine Gael is a founding member, and she made sure our farming interests were protected."

Ms Walsh thanked Ministers Michael Ring and Joe McHugh for proposing and seconding her nomination.

Maria Walsh

In her acceptance speech, Ms Walsh said: "It is truly a great honour for me to be nominated as a Fine Gael candidate for the Midlands North-West constituency."

The former Rose of Tralee added: "I believe we have a lot to be thankful for being part of the European Union. We must all remember that Rural Ireland is benefiting in many ways from funding coming direct from Europe. 

"I am really looking forward to connecting with you and the people of this constituency as we work towards providing a new, young, fresh voice for Europe".