A lot has changed in the five years since the last round of European elections, Nessa Childers MEP reminded voters this morning, adding: ‘Now is our chance to send the strongest of messages to those in Leinster House.
‘Austerity has had a devastating impact on the ordinary people of this country,’ Ms Childers also said. ‘Everyone knows that cutbacks had to be implemented – but they didn’t have to be made unquestionably in the merciless, mindless manner in which they were.
‘Today is the day to say aloud: “We’ve had quite enough, thank you.” It’s the day to say that the suffering inflicted by the Troika programme, and now continued by the Fine Gael/Labour government is unacceptable and immoral.
‘And every voter in this country – all 3.25million of us – can use our vote to support and champion independents and those candidates from non-establishment parties.’
In contrast to Belgium, where more than 90 per cent of adults exercised their right to vote, in the last European elections in 2009, less than 60 per cent Irish people turned out.
Ms Childers added: ‘In particular, I’d like to see lots of younger people going to their local polling stations today – voter turnout in this group has really been too low in recent years.’
Only one-in-four voters aged 18-24 voted in the 2011 general election – one of the lowest rates in Europe.
‘I think gradually over the weekend, we will come to view today as a historical day for Irish politics,’ Ms Childers added. ‘After all, if six or seven out of our 11 MEPs – and that is a realistic figure – are independent or from a non-establishment party, then we can really drive change together.
‘Think of the scandals unearthed over the last few weeks and months in this country – unearthed because independents spoke up and spoke out against the governmental parties that tried continuously to silence their words of reason, sense and justice.’
Ms Childers, who lives locally in Dublin and has been a sitting MEP for the last five years, concluded: ‘In my mind – and I believe, in the minds of many citizens – Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens have had their day in the sun. They’ve had their chance and sadly they’ve left a lot of people wanting.
‘So today, let’s shift gear and move away from the established norm. Independents are a force to be reckoned with – today is Independence Day for Ireland!’