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The other MEPs in my group are a very diverse and interesting lot

The other MEPs in my group are a very diverse and interesting lot.

There are a total of 705 MEPs and 98 of them are in my group, Renew Europe. We are located at the centre of the political spectrum between the largest party to the right, the European People’s Party (to which Fine Gael are affiliated), and the next largest one to the left, the Socialists and Democrats Group (Labour and SDLP).

The other Irish MEPs are affiliated with the Greens and the far-left GUE group (Sinn Fein and Independents for Change).

The largest group within Renew Europe is the French delegation. When Emmanuel Macron formed La Republique en Marche, he began discussions with what was then called the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE). The UK Liberals were part of this group before Brexit. Fianna Fail had no MEPs so our affiliation was quite loose.

Eventually, Macron committed to ALDE as long as the name was changed and so Renew Europe was born.

Our position on the political spectrum and our relatively high numbers means we hold the balance of power in discussions on important legislation. With our co-operation, a Parliamentary majority can be formed on the left or the right.

So here is a few pen pictures of my colleagues.

Let me start with one of the oldest MEPs (if he doesn’t mind), Nils Torvalds. Nils is in his 70s but incredibly active on extremely important files including on the discussions on the next EU budget, the Multi-annual Financial Framework. He is an MEP for Finland although he is ethnically Swedish and a member of the Swedish People’s Party.

Politically, his journey has been a long one. He started out as a campus radical in Helsinki in the 1960s with the pro-Soviet wing of the Finnish Communist Party and spent time editing a communist newspaper.

His son, Linus, invented the Linux kernel, which is at the heart of many computer operating systems and has a net worth of $150 million.

One of the most extraordinary MEPs is Maite Pagazaurtundua who is a Spanish politician from the Basque country. She has campaigned for the victims of ETA terrorism for many years and had to endure 13 years of constant police escorts due to threats to her life from Basque nationalists. Her brother Joseba was murdered by ETA in 2003.

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