Colm Markey will replace Mairead McGuinness as an MEP.
Updated Tue 2:00 PM
LOUTH COUNCILLOR COLM Markey has said that reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and Brexit will be his two main priorities once he takes on the role of MEP
The local councillor is set to replace Mairead McGuinness as an MEP in the European Parliament following her confirmation as Ireland’s new EU Commissioner this morning.
Markey, as McGuinness’s named replacement, will soon be representing the Midlands North West constituency, but his predecessor, as the First-Vice President of the European Parliament and a regular commentator on Brexit, will be a tough act to follow.
“There’s a lot of challenges coming down the track,” Markey tells TheJournal.ie.
A county councillor since 2009, Markey is a farmer by trade and a former president of rural youth group Macra Na Feirme.
He says that these experiences will stand him in good stead for his new role, which will see him represent a constituency that covers a vast swathe of the country from Cavan to Kildare.
“The travel end of it will all be new to me,” he says. “I don’t know how that is going to work out.”
But he says that “as regards covering the constituency, when I was in Macra Na Feirme I would have covered the whole country as president”.
Congratulations are already coming in from Fine Gael members and senior politicians, with Markey acknowledging that he’ll have to adapt to the larger media profile that comes with the role of an MEP.
An active local politician and a former Cathaoirleach of Louth County Council, he was re-elected in 2019 in the Ardee ward on the first count.
This morning, Markey was quick to issue his congratulations to McGuinness, a native of the Ardee area.
“Congratulations to Mairead McGuinness on her elevation to commissioner,” he tweeted. “Look forward to working with her and my future colleagues in the European Parliament.”
Congratulations to @MaireadMcGMEP on her elevation to commissioner. Look forward to working with her and my future colleagues in the European Parliament.
— Colm Markey (@ColmMarkey) September 8, 2020
Markey says that he “would have worked with Mairead closely for 15 to 20 years at this stage”, adding that they spoken three or four times in the last 10 days.
He also spoke to Tánaiste and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar over the weekend, who he says called to wish him the best if he did end up getting the job in the event McGuinness was selected.
Colleagues in the local area speak highly of Markey.
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Dolores Minogue, the current Cathaoirleach of Louth County Council, told TheJournal.ie that Markey is a “hard working councillor” who “has a good idea of what’s needed in the area”.
His farming background, she said, would be “very important” in dealing with issues like agriculture and Brexit.
He’s going into a very demanding role, she said, but “it’s great we have someone local”.
Markey has long harboured some national ambitions – running for the Seanad agricultural panel back in 2011 – but the step up to MEP while easily be the biggest political leap of his career.
He admits it’s a “strange” way to get a new job.
“The outcome of the selection was out of my hands. It’s the first time taking on a role I didn’t have to go out on the ground to get,” he says.