Public Meeting Report: Launch of the Citizen’s Dialogue and Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union

Featured Stories

Stability, jobs, growth – these are Ireland’s goals for the presidency of the Council of the European Union this year.  In connection with this, on Thursday 10 January, MC Pat Kenny was joined in Dublin City Hall by citizens, politicians and journalists to officially launch the European Year of Citizens 2013 and hold a Citizens’ Dialogue to allow the Irish to voice their opinions on EU membership.

 

After the official launch, Pat Kenny kicked off an engaging Citizens’ Dialogue with Minister of State for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton, and Vice-President of the European Commission, Viviane Reding.

 

They engaged in a lively debate with audience members, who asked the tough questions.  Minister Creighton was asked about the recent 2013 budget and stated that, although a tough budget, it was necessary for “laying the foundations for future growth”.  Vice-President Reding reiterated the idea of growth. “Europe is about people, not institutions” she said.

 

A frequent theme throughout the event was youth. Many audience members were concerned about employment, understandable since Ireland’s unemployment rate has risen from 13% to 30% since the recession hit.  One major issue that was brought up was the extended work life of the elderly.  Many Europeans are now forced to work past the age of sixty-five to manage their expenses.  The knock-on effect is that young people in these countries, including Ireland, cannot attain employment as the turnover of workers is too low to allow recruitment.  The Vice-President acknowledged that the young are the worst affected by the current crisis and suggested that we need to respond with increased investment in the future.  The solution, Vice-President Reding believes, is growth; the need to grow the economy to make it sustainable.

 

Questions were also raised about the controversial issue of the European Parliament’s location in Strasbourg, and the extra costs this entails every year.  Vice-President Reding acknowledged that this is an issue but that it was the historical context of the location in Strasburg that has kept the location active, a fact which perhaps we are not all aware of.

 

With an inquisitive audience, the event was overall a great success.  The general vibe from the citizens present was that they supported the ideals of the European Union but felt that now Ireland is suffering as a result of this membership.  With any luck, the goals outlined by the politicians will be fulfilled and faith in the union will be restored.

 

For more information, check out www.eu2013.ie

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Featured Stories
Lyra McKee: Who was she and why are people talking about her?

Lyra McKee was a 29 years old reporter, writer and campaigner. Friends and colleagues described her as a “rising star” in the world of journalism – she was named Sky News young journalist of the year in 2006. Lyra was writing her first book which was due to be published in …

Featured Stories
Visit to Al Fawwar Refugee Camp, Hebron, Palestine, June 2019

Ayat Alturshan runs several different projects for women and children at different refugee camps in the West Bank, Palestine. I recently had the opportunity to go and visit the Al Fawwar refugee camp on the outskirts of Hebron, West Bank, Palestine with the cultural and educational project, Go Palestine which …

Featured Stories
The Loughinisland Massacre

On June 18 1994, six men were brutally murdered as they sat having a drink in their local pub.  They were watching Ireland play Italy in the soccer World Cup in the Heights Bar, Loughinisland – a small village in County Down, Northern Ireland.    Their only crime that night was …