EU Benefits Science

So far, 588 projects with Irish participation have secured over €250 million in funding from Horizon 2020, the European Union’s programme for Research and Innovation.

Ireland has set an ambitious, but achievable, target of winning up to €1.25 billion under the Horizon 2020 fund, which runs until 2020 with a total budget of almost €75 billion.

Projects linked to the higher education system in Ireland account for €157 million of the funding secured to date, while companies based in Ireland have won €72 million in the first two years of the programme.

Ireland is renowned for its high-tech; innovative and highly respected science sector, so it is no surprise that those capable professionals are meeting EU aspirations under with Horizon 2020.

Thanks to the new “SME instrument”, Horizon 2020 also has specific funding dedicated to small and medium sized businesses. It means SMEs can be supported from the early stages of developing a new business concept onwards. SMEs can apply for Horizon 2020 funding if their project falls under the categories related to clean and efficient energy, health, ICT and even advanced manufacturing.

Enterprise Ireland is supporting those who wish to bid for funding under the scheme and any interested researchers, scientists and even SMEs can find out more information via this dedicated website:

I would encourage all those involved in any kind of R&D, science and health research to investigate the opportunities available under Horizon 2020.

UK referendum

EU funding supports for innovation is just one of the many major benefits of EU membership – one which has clearly been recognised by European scientists.

Ahead of the UK’s June referendum on EU membership, a recent poll of almost 2,000 researchers in Britain and Europe by the international weekly science journal, Nature, showed that researchers feel EU membership is beneficial for science.

Of the 907 researchers working in the UK who were polled, 83 percent said that they wanted the UK to stay in the EU, while just 12pc were in favour of an exit or a so-called “Brexit”. When only the 666 UK researchers who plan to vote in the referendum were included, the figures altered ever so slightly to 80pc and 14pc.

Of those who intend to vote in the referendum, 78pc said they believed a Brexit would harm the UK’s science sector, while 9pc said that it would be beneficial.

European scientists and researchers surveyed outside the UK, who do not have a vote in the upcoming referendum, had a similar reaction. Of these 954 individuals, 77pc said they want the UK to stay in the EU – 17pc said they favoured an exit. 

Poll responses were obtained via e-mail and online surveys for Nature – further information is available here:

European Unity


The EU project was founded to create unity in Europe based on a common market, in the aftermath of World War II.

Dealing with crises and arising challenges is nothing new for the EU in the sense that European politicians have been working together towards consensus and with great diplomatic efforts ever since.

The immigration crisis is the most serious challenge the EU has faced, since the financial crisis of 2008. Many naysayers predicted the end of the Euro or even the Union while EU leaders grappled with the financial crisis, yet we witnessed those leaders show solidarity, supporting each other in terms of aid. Many new rules have been implemented to improve and strengthen our financial systems in order to prevent such instances being repeated.

In many ways, one could say the EU rose to the challenge of the financial crisis, learned from it and implemented constructive measures to the benefit of Europe in its wake.

Immigration also requires solidarity across Europe. It is another unprecedented challenge for which EU leaders are working earnestly to provide the solutions too.

This week, a special meeting of EU leaders and Turkey took place in Brussels on how to stem the flow of migrants and refugees into the Union. That will involve supporting Turkey with aid to help accommodate and look after those refugees in Turkey, across the border from their home country. Meanwhile, we must also address the serious crime of people smuggling.

The crisis is far from solved, but leaders are working towards a multi-faceted response to help those in need with immediate humanitarian aid while securing our external borders.

UK referendum

UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced that he will hold a referendum on whether Britain should remain in the European Union on Thursday, 23 June 2016.

Mr Cameron wants the UK to stay in the EU on the basis of a reform deal agreed by the Heads of State and Governments of the EU recently. You can find more details on the deal here:

This is not the first time such a referendum has taken place in Britain. In 1975, Britain voted to stay in the EU with 67.5 % of votes in favour.

Interestingly, 40 years on from that result, a Parlemeter survey found that 46 percent of UK respondents feel attached to the EU, 47pc view EU membership as a good thing, while 51pc believe the UK has benefited from membership of the Union.

The Parlemeter survey conducted in the 28 EU Member States, the fieldwork for which was carried out by TNS opinion between 19 and 29 September 2015.

In the forthcoming June referendum, Irish citizens aged over 18 who are resident in the UK will be eligible to vote.

From an Irish perspective, it is important to say that any exit by the UK from the EU could have a detrimental impact on our economy as the UK is Ireland’s largest EU trading partner. There are also other considerations, like maintaining the progress to date in the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Many UK business leaders are advocating that the UK remains in the EU. That’s not surprising given that EU membership means access to a market of 500 million citizens. The British Chambers of Commerce says 55% of members back staying in a reformed EU.

Following the European Council summit in February, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny assured Irish citizens that, due to the special relationship between Ireland and the UK, they will not be impacted in terms of visa requirements should the UK leave the EU. Ireland and the UK have had a common travel area in place since the 1920s, with shared visa agreements and border controls.

There are many implications of a Yes or No vote in the UK referendum which will be evident as pre-referendum campaigning continues.

Women’s Day

International Women’s Day 2016 (8 March) focused on achieving parity for women or equality in terms of status and pay.

It has been noted that in 2014, the World Economic Forum predicted that global gender parity could be a reality by 2095, but last year, they changed that prediction to 2133 as progress slowed.

This year, on International Women’s Day, all women are asked to “Pledge for Parity” by speaking up for gender equality, and to honour all women in all parts of the world.

This year, our thoughts are especially with women refugees who need our support after they have fled war-torn areas in search of refuge, often with small children.

Stronger together

Mairead McGuinness MEP meets Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the European Parliament, Strasbourg this week (Wednesday) for an historic address to the Parliament with the French President François Hollande. It was the first such joint address by German and French leaders since 1989 when President François Mitterrand and Chancellor Helmut Kohl debated the end of the Cold War with MEPs.

Before addressing the plenary chamber, I joined my EPP Group colleagues for a special meeting with Chancellor Merkel at which she spoke of the need for solidarity and understanding and for courage in pursuing our goals in other areas of EU policy.

“When EPP governments are in place, we see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said, commenting on the recent election results in Portugal. She also highlighted the success of Ireland in exiting the EU-IMF bailout programme and spoke of how countries can emerge stronger after a crisis, having implemented the necessary economic reforms.

A great deal of our discussion centred on the ongoing refugee crisis, to which the Chancellor paid particular attention.

“Europe must face globalisation and solve these issues in a truly integrated manner. Walls and fences will not save Europe. Solidarity and teamwork will help to fight the root causes of the problem,” she said.

She also emphasised that Europe and its international partners will need to involve Russia as part of the solution to the situation in Syria. However, on a separate issue, she stated that the Minsk Agreement must be implemented in relation to Ukraine.

She also strongly advocated for a reinforced digital agenda and trade agreements, such as the EU-US trade agreement, to drive growth and jobs in Europe.

In her speech to MEPs, Chancellor Merkel reminded us that “we are stronger together than we are separate”, a statement that was true when the Berlin Wall came down and is as relevant today.

Heart Health

Mairead McGuinness MEP meets Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis on World Heart Day

While this week’s survey on the nation’s health reveals that obesity levels in Ireland have fallen slightly, they are still much too high at 60%. The Healthy Ireland survey said four out of five people surveyed reported good health, but a further look at findings showed a low take-up of exercise, particularly amongst men.

Surveys such as this, which involved 7,500 households, are a good reminder to be more health aware every day.

I recently had the opportunity to meet Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis in Brussels to highlight the need to raise greater awareness about heart disease ahead of World Heart Day.

Scientific evidence shows that physical activity, a balanced diet and a good environment are all vital factors for a healthy heart.

While there have been wonderful advancements in medicine that have helped us treat heart disease and prolong life, unfortunately our own bad habits are damaging our health.

Trans fats, those produced industrially from plant oils and include some margarines and snack foods, are a serious worry.

There is now no ambiguity about the dangers of trans fats. Recent research published in the British Medical Journal has found that these industrially produced trans fats are linked to much greater risk of death and disease, a 34pc increase in mortality and a 28pc increase in coronary heart disease.

At an EU level, we are looking at possible ways to combat the presence of trans fats in foods to improve the health of our citizens. Cardiovascular disease (CVD), including heart disease and stroke, is the number one killer in Ireland.

CVD causes over 10,000 deaths daily, more than all cancers combined. For more information on how to improve your heart health, visit:

State of the Union

State of the Union

In his State of the Union speech in the European Parliament, Strasbourg this morning (Wednesday), European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker showed realism, practicality and with his measures he has called for a more resilient Europe.

The challenge of migration was the focal point of Mr Juncker’s address today. Importantly, he stressed that the current influx of refugees is a direct result of conflict, instability and a terrorist threat in Syria, Libya and elsewhere. The President stated that Europe needs to be stronger in its Foreign Policy. Diplomacy has a key role to play. Globally, there is a need to address the ongoing sources of conflict and other nations must recognise their responsibility in helping these refugees too. Combatting human trafficking and the criminal gangs who profit on human misery is essential, on which Mr Juncker also voiced a commitment. In the long-term, I believe the EU can lead by example but the United States, the Arab countries and democratically governed African countries all also share the responsibility for resolving these issues.

Human dignity and a humanitarian approach were prominent themes in Mr Juncker’s speech this morning, echoing the public’s sentiment. Many Member States, including Ireland, were mentioned as having experienced persecution in the past and having witnessed so many hundreds of thousands or more emigrate in the past. We are all or have historical national experience of being refugees, Mr Juncker pointed out. Perhaps it is that feeling of solidarity that many European citizens are feeling at present that has led to the strong public plea for EU leaders to continue to offer refuge to those in need.

The details of newly proposed measures for addressing the migration crisis must now be discussed in detail by EU leaders and then decisions can be taken as how best to proceed in solidarity. Member States need to consider their current economic situation, how educational systems can accommodate extra numbers and after such an assessment a clearer picture of how Europe can accommodate asylum seekers should emerge.

Over recent weeks, the question of maintaining the principal of Free Movement in Europe has been the subject of debate. We are committed to open borders in Europe. For us to maintain free movement in the EU, we must protect Europe’s external borders – that is paramount for security reasons.

Securing greater stability was also highlighted by Mr Juncker when he spoke of the ongoing conflict in the Ukraine. We cannot forget the conflict and humanitarian needs of those living in Ukraine.
The need for stability also applies to the EU in economic terms, and to Greece and its future economic outlook. Noting that 17 million people are still unemployed across the Eurozone, the Commission President said the economic crisis will not be over until we return to full employment.

Looking further ahead, the State of the Union speech reminded us of the high hopes and expectations for an international agreement to tackle global warming at the Climate Change conference in Paris this December.

The upcoming referendum in the UK on its EU membership next year will also pose a challenge and an opportunity for Europe. EU leaders must examine proposals from the UK and see what possibilities for compromise arise. The referendum could be considered an opportunity for reflection on certain aspects of policy that can be improved for the benefit of all, however, our key fundamental values such as Free Movement are what the Union is founded on and cannot be up for negotiation.

From Spain to Louth
On Sunday last, I enjoyed meeting a Spanish delegation, led by the Mayor of Catoira, Mr. Alberto GarcĂ­a Spain in the Glyde Inn on a very positive project – the twinning of Annagassan, Co Louth and Catoira, Galicia-Spain.
I intend to work with the two regions and ensure that the twinning process runs smoothly and that the important links already established grow and prosper.
Both towns, Annagassan and Catoira, represent two key Viking heritage sites in Europe. The twinning of Annagassan and Catoira aims to incorporate an educational element that would involve young people and students in a language exchange programme. The project focuses on promoting the Irish and Galician languages.
As well as developing foreign language skills, it would bolster and strengthen cultural links between the two towns and their students. I am happy to support this initiative.

15-09-09 State of the Union-10

Refugees and Migration

Refugees and Migration
September 3, 2015

The migration crisis hitting Europe is unprecedented. People are risking their lives to get to Europe. Many do not make it and die in the waters of the Mediterranean or in sealed trucks – abandoned by people traffickers.
The normal rules of EU migration policy are in tatters, designed for another time and not fit for purpose today.
It is not true to say that nothing is being done by the EU, perhaps it is more accurate to say that not enough is being done, because of the absence of agreement among the 28 member states about the way forward.
I believe that will change. It must. Sadly, the washing ashore of the bodies of two little Syrian boys has elicited a reaction among the public and political leaders. They are not the first little children to suffer and unless something is urgently done they will not be the last.
It is alarming to watch migrants at train stations shoving children through windows of overcrowded trains, unsure of where they are going or if they will get there.
The EPP Group, to which Fine Gael is aligned, supports responsibility sharing on a European level through a solidarity mechanism in support of those Member States where most migrants are arriving, especially along the Mediterranean coast.
The search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea, which have been supported by Ireland, will continue in order to prevent unnecessary loss of life.
But this is only a reaction albeit an important one, we have to focus on solutions to the crisis, including tackling the reasons why so many flee and risk their lives to make it to the shores of the EU. The civil war in Syria has displaced 4 million people.
Refugees have a right to protection and support.
The challenge for member states is to make sure that refugees get their support due to them.
A crackdown on people traffickers is also necessary. Massive sums of money are being extracted by traffickers.
Europe’s external borders must be protected as a prime deterrent to those human traffickers who make false promises to people in return for extortionate sums of money. We must also protect the European principle of free movement, which eliminated internal border checks across mainland Europe under the Schengen system.
There is also the immediate need to speed up how we process those seeking refuge. The EPP Group is fully supportive of offering humanitarian assistance to those in need.
In his State of the Union speech to the European Parliament next week, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to address this issue and set out some concrete proposals to help ease the crisis.
In the longer-term, the EU must work with democratic countries in Africa and in the Middle East to ensure they play their role in assisting migrants in need and in preventing human trafficking. Many refugees are fleeing war zones and conflicts that will not end in the next few months or not even in the next few years.
Migration is a global issue which requires a global response, and to that end, the EU needs to work closely with the UN to establish a way forward. The EU cannot solve the problem alone.
It is certainly one of the most challenging and complex situations the EU has ever had to face.

Greek Crisis


Greek Crisis

10 July 2015

We are coming to the end of a very busy and productive Parliamentary week in Strasbourg. Europe is facing one of its toughest challenges yet in trying to solve the Greek crisis. European Institutions are reviewing the latest proposals put forward by the Greek Government, ahead of a special summit to be held in Brussels on Sunday.

On Wednesday of this week, the Greek crisis was debated by MEPs. European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras attended the debate.

I chaired part of that debate as Vice-President of the Parliament and believe that it helped to put a sharp focus on the realities rather than the rhetoric of the Greek situation. It was a very tense, heated debate which only serves to reflect the gravity of the situation now facing Greece and the Eurozone.

In his address to the plenary, Manfred Weber MEP, Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, reminded Tsipras of the principles and fundamental values of European culture: confidence, dignity, solidarity and democracy.

Confidence: “The unleashing of words over the past few days was quite disturbing. You called us terrorists. Up until now, you have not made any proposals. You are losing the confidence of the rest of Europe”, Manfred Weber told the Greek Prime Minister.

Dignity: “You talk about dignified politics, but you are not telling your own people the truth. And look at who your friends are: the far-left and far-right, MEPs, the extremists in this House, are applauding you. You are surrounding yourself with the wrong friends”, he said.

Solidarity: “You are telling your people that it is the Institutions that will pay for Greece but it is actually ordinary people in other EU countries, in Portugal, in Spain, in Poland who will pay. In at least five EU countries, the minimum wage is lower than in Greece. You must also think about those people.”

Democracy: “Europe is not a sum of nationalist views. Europe is about compromise. As responsible political representatives we engage in compromise. We do hope you will be able to come up with a programme shortly. The EPP Group stands at the side of the Greek people. We want a good solution to be found for Greece and for Europe as a whole”, Weber concluded.

The debate was a sharp injection of reality and reflected the frustration towards the Greek Government, not the Greek people, being felt across Europe. Allowing political leaders to voice their concerns, objections and opinions as to how to proceed in this most public and democratic forum was, I believe, a significant turning point in this crisis.

The reality is that Greece is a very, very difficult situation. Recent actions by the Syriza Greek government, has already reneged on commitments and failed to show that it is genuinely interested in reform and working constructively with its EU partners. As a result of these actions, over the course of the last five months and due to the Greek Government’s decision to break negotiations, Greece has isolated itself politically in the EU.

We need maturity. We need responsibility and we need leadership to be shown by the Greek Government in facing reality and engaging with its creditors to resolve the current crisis.

But there is hope that the latest set of form proposals may unlock the impasse in the crisis.
Sunday is the final day. A deal will be done or it will not, but it also will have to be ratified by a number of Parliaments and may be debated and voted on in the Dail and Seanad too.

During the debate, Tsipras was advised to look to his friends in Europe for help, his creditors who have offered financial assistance and who want Greece to stay in the Eurozone and return to stability.

The Irish government wants Greece to remain in the Eurozone and is supportive of restructuring of Greek debt, similar to that which was achieved in Ireland during our bailout.

I want to be optimistic at this point and hope consensus is achieved in the interests of the Eurozone, of Europe, Ireland and all Member States and, of course, for the Greek citizens.

Let’s hope Sunday will bring conciliation, consensus and mark the end of the Greek crisis.

Be safe on the farm


1st July 2015

Be safe on the farm

Farm safety is an essential consideration for everyone who farms and for their families. Sadly we have seen seven people lose their lives on Irish farms this year. I have just read the report of a farmer in Northern Ireland who lost his life on Friday in an accident involving a bull. Another tragedy, another farm family devastated. We think of all those who have been affected by the loss of a loved one on our farms and pray that they find the strength to cope.
Not all farm accidents are fatal, but many leave farmers and family members disabled.
According to Teagasc, 2,000 injuries are recorded on Irish farms each year. 75 percent of these involve tractors or machinery, trips and falls or livestock – which accounts for a quarter of accidents.
Most Irish farmers are very conscious of creating a safe working environment and have active safety plans on their farms. However, it is in the busy moments that we often forget ourselves and accidents can occur. Sometimes, the best advice is to pause for a moment and think before you act when dealing with those high-risk farming jobs such as operating machinery, moving livestock and so on. Is this safe? How can I do each task with my own safety in mind?
Teagasc advisors on safety tell us that most accidents are preventable if practical safety measures are taken. They urge the farming community to assess their current farm safety, identify hazards and take control measures. It is also a good idea to discuss key aspects of farm safety regularly with your family, any persons who may work on your farm, contractors and visitors and ensure that safe standards and practices are followed.
For more tips, visit:

Sadly, the farming community in Ireland is all too aware of the tragic consequences of farm accidents. I attended the beautiful and very moving memorial held in Co Laois on Sunday in remembrance of those who lost their lives in farm accidents. For more information on Embrace FARM, founded to provide a bereavement support group for farm families, visit:

The Department of Agriculture also provide a support service for families (lo-call 0761 064445). This service is for those farm families who have suffered sudden tragedies and face subsequent challenges in their dealings with issues surrounding ownership, entitlements, scheme applications, succession and inheritance etc.

Greek crisis

It has been worrying to watch the events surrounding the Greek crisis unfold and continue to escalate in such a dramatic fashion in the last few days.
Greek citizens are facing difficulties accessing cash as the banks remain closed and capital controls imposed. At the weekend we will have a referendum.

EU leaders in the Eurozone and the IMF creditors had met Greek government officials on numerous occasions, in a bid to broker a deal to ultimately support Greece in finding its way out of a very difficult situation.

The Irish example has been heavily cited in recent days and clearly highlights where Greece has failed to make progress. Tough measures were taken in Ireland but the results are very apparent. The Irish government also renegotiated the terms of our bailout, securing interest rate reductions on debts, and focused on growth and job creation. The unemployment rate in Ireland has now dropped to below 10 percent, whereas it currently stands at 25 percent in Greece.

The situation is incredibly precarious and changes by the day in Greece. One can only hope that some common sense prevails and Greece pulls back from the brink of economic disaster. A great deal of damage has been done to its future prospects for economic growth and investment, but there is still hope if a more balanced, realistic approach is taken and if all sides show genuine willingness to resolve the crisis.
Everything hinges on the outcome of the Greek referendum on Sunday. The sadness and disappointment of the EU negotiators at the way in which the Greek government has handled the negotiations is palpable. Apparently, the amount that divides the two sides is not large.
What a total waste of time and energy and what a horrible situation for the Greek people to be in – banks closed, long queues at ATM and supermarkets.
However disappointed we are, on Monday next we will have to reflect on the outcome of the referendum and move forward.

A journey to democracy

President of Mongolia

A journey to democracy

10th June 2015
The European Parliament often receives some very inspirational speakers and guests who address our plenary sessions from time to time. This week we welcomed the President of Mongolia, Tsakhia Elbegdorj, to Strasbourg. He spoke of his political journey and it was impressive.
President Elbegdorj is the youngest of eight sons from a family of nomadic herdsmen who worked in the ranges of the Altai Mountains for generations.
“My mother and father never dreamed that, one day, their youngest son would speak from this respected podium to the most caring hearts of democracy: the European Parliament,” he said yesterday (9th June).

The President told us of his country’s history and journey to democracy.
From the early 1920s Mongolia was under communist rule for seven decades. During the Stalinist purges, one out of every six adult men was killed and over 700 Buddhist temples were burnt to the ground.

It was not until 10 December 1989 that Mongolian citizens demanded their rights and democratic governance by a public rally. As President Elbegdorj said, it was the beginning of Mongolia’s journey to liberty, justice and openness.
“We organised many meetings, demonstrations and hunger strikes. We tried to eliminate every reason for violence. We always called for compromises, for peaceful solutions. Indeed, Mongolia’s democratic revolution was totally peaceful. Not a single shot was fired. Not a single window was shattered. Not a single drop of blood was shed,” he told MEPs.

On 29th July 2015, Mongolia will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its first full democratic, multi-party election. Speaking of the virtues of democracy, the President’s words are notable: “In order to sustain a healthy society, we must keep nurturing and challenging it every day. The beauty of freedom is that it is a learning process. It is the healing system of human society. We can make mistakes, but mistakes will not cost us our lives, as in a dictatorship. That is why we love freedom.”

I also commend Mongolia on its efforts to be inclusive in societal terms, by advancing and encouraging educational opportunities for both genders and for promoting the contribution and equality of women in public service at all levels, from local to global. Indeed, the last election saw the number of women in Mongolia’s Parliament triple. “With more women in power, I think we would have more harmony, more engagement, less suffering and less conflict,” President Elbegdorj added.

In summary, the President provided an apt description of democratic societies:
“I understand that all democracies should not look the same. We have to respect differences. Democracy is a representative form of government. In any nation it should reflect the cultures and traditions. But in every decent society you will see a common trend: democracies limit the power of the state; they tend to be responsive to their people’s grievances; they protect human rights, with impartial and consistent rule of law; they support healthy civic institutions, independent media and judiciary; they fight corruption, invest in human capital and recognise gender equality; and they allow people to choose their leaders in free and fair elections.”
It was an encouraging speech, full of hope – much needed in the Parliament right now when the atmosphere is highly charged and when progress on important political issues is painfully slow.

Missing Children

missing children EU

Some 250,000 children go missing every year or one child in the EU – a frightening statistics revealed at a special event held by Missing Children Europe in the European Parliament, Brussels this week which I attended as the Parliament’s Mediator for International Parental Child Abduction.
Over half of missing children cases reported to the 116 000 missing children hotline network are running away from home or care institutions, another 37 percent are of children abducted by a parent while 1 percent of missing children cases are those of unaccompanied migrant children and criminal abductions respectively. The reasons vary from violence, abuse, exploitation, neglect and abduction.
Across the EU, some 25 percent of the cases have a cross border dimension and therefore, cross-border cooperation is vital, and support is also provided by Missing Children Europe and its members.
Missing Children Europe is the European federation for missing and sexually exploited children representing 30 grassroots NGOs in 24 countries in Europe who work directly with missing children and their families. This International Missing Children’s day, help protect missing children by saving the European missing children hotline number- 116 000 – in your phone. This hotline provides free, professional support to children and families facing child disappearances 24/7.

The response to the problem is to support families in difficulties and to provide structures for children in danger to have access to social care systems.
As the European Parliament’s Mediator for International Parental Child Abduction, I have called for clearer guidelines and greater legal certainty on the issue of child abduction, while being mindful of the child’s rights and what is in the best interest of the child.
Specialised courts and a network of mediators to deal with transnational proceedings and the creation of a European database to monitor the phenomenon would be beneficial.
There is also room for preventive mediation to stem the possibility of problems arising and the situation then needing remedial action, a much more difficult situation.
Every week my office as mediator deals with distraught parents concerned about their children and we attempt to assist them resolve the situation, including contacting central authorities in Member States where appropriate.
Significant work needs to be undertaken to alleviate the trauma for children of parental child abduction across borders and I will continue to promote this issue in my role as Vice-President. Indeed, I will host a conference on this topic in the European Parliament office in Dublin later this year.

Marriage equality referendum
Ireland made international headlines over the weekend as the first country in the world to ask its citizens to vote on the introduction of same-sex marriage. 62 per cent voted in favour, so marriage equality will become a reality in Ireland by autumn.
In Europe, 10 other countries have already extended equal rights to their LGBTI citizens to marry: Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the UK (excluding Northern Ireland), Slovenia and Sweden.

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