Here you can see pictures of a day in the life of an MEP
Students often ask me how the European Parliament works and what MEPs really do.
So I have written this to give you an idea of what my working life entails and how I try to balance that with my family life!
I entered politics in 2004 when I ran for the European Parliament and was successfully elected as a member of the Fine Gael party.
Before that I was a journalist working for the Irish Independent and RTÃ‰.
Â Like most politicians I have been interested in politics and current affairs for as long as I can remember, I really enjoyed debating when I was in secondary school and later at university in UCD, where I studied Agricultural Economics.
Â After reporting on politics and agriculture for some time I felt that by getting involved in politics I might be able to actually change things for the better.
I was delighted to be elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2009. I sought re-election because I was keen to continue working in the Parliament and it was a real boost to know that the voters of Ireland East were supportive of me in very significant numbers.
My work means that I travel to Brussels – three weeks out of every four. The fourth week is spent in Strasbourg, where the Parliament has its seat. The week runs from Monday to Thursday, so Iâ€™m in Ireland from Friday to Monday – most weeks.
Of course every week is different and sometimes there are meetings in Ireland which I must attend, schools to visit or groups to speak with.Â Therefore, my schedule is varied and flexible in order to get everything done.
When in Brussels and Strasbourg my work is a mix of regular meetings of committees and political groups. We meet in Committees first to discuss and vote on new legislation. When legislation is passed by a Committee it then moves to be voted on by all the Members of the Parliament. Before the voting session in Parliament we meet with our Political Group (the EPP in my case) to discuss the legislation which we will vote on in the Plenary which is what the voting session of the whole Parliament is called. As you can imagine all this involves reading reports, amending legislation and meeting various lobby groups that come to the Parliament.
It also involves dealing with the many emails we receive each day.
Sometimes I get to eat lunch – but not always, which is not very wise!!
Travel is a big part of the work I do, both to Brussels and Strasbourg and then within the Constituency of Ireland East, itself.
Naturally I like going home, so relish the days and nights when I can be in my own home!
Getting the right mix of work and private time is difficult, I have four children, so my life is busy but I think we manage okay. I donâ€™t like to have to say â€˜noâ€™ to people who want me to be at events and other gatherings but sometimes there isnâ€™t a choice.
I really enjoy my work; itâ€™s very varied, hugely rewarding and never dull. I like learning about new issues and putting my stamp on policies being debated in the Parliament.
What I least like about my job is that just when you think youâ€™re in control of all the issues – something new comes along. So keeping up to date with all the political developments is a challenge.
As a Member of Parliament my role is to scrutinise legislative proposals from the Commission and the Council, table amendments and vote on these proposals.
I work with other MEPs in my political group, the European People’s Party Group – the largest in the European Parliament – which brings together centre and centre-right pro-European political parties from the Member States of the EU. This means that we have more power to move legislation when we work together. Our political views are broadly similar.
I move between three offices – in Ireland, Brussels and Strasbourg. But email and text messages can be received and sent from anywhere around the globe – so this is doable and relatively seamless!!
I sit on two European Parliament committees: the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development and the Committee for the Environment, Public Health & Food Safety. I also work on the Disability and Animal Welfare Intergroup of Parliament. You can learn more about the Committees and the European Parliament by clicking the links below: