Ardee woman Mairead McGuinness has been mooted as a potential candidate to be Ireland’s next EU Commissioner, following Phil Hogan’s resignation on Wednesday evening.
Mr Hogan resigned his post as the EU Commissioner for Trade in the aftermath of the GolfGate scandal, having attended an Oireachtas Golf Society event in Clifden, at which 80 other people attended despite the country continuing to live under Covid-19 related restrictions, especially pertaining to how many people can congregate in one place at any given time.
The former Fine Gael TD also came under scrutiny for travelling outside of his native Kildare before his 14 days of self-isolation had elapsed, after arriving into the country from Brussels. Mr Hogan had been EU Commissioner since last year, first serving in Agriculture and Rural Development and then moving to Trade.
McGuinness is seen as a viable candidate given her knowledge of and experience in Brussels, as well as her own personal background in agriculture, which is seen as a likely brief should President Ursula von der Leyen decide on a reshuffle. She has been an MEP for six years and a Vice-President of the EPP for almost four years.
McGuinness is currently a Fine Gael MEP representing the Midlands North West and First Vice-President of the European Parliament. She is a perennial favourite of the bookmakers when it comes to betting markets for the next President of Ireland, for which she is currently the favourite, priced at 9/2.
On Thursday, UE Commission President von der Leyen invited the Irish Government to nominate both a man and a woman for the role of the Irish representative in the Commission. She said that she would decide the final allocation of portfolios “at a later stage.”
Amongst the other names mentioned in dispatches for the position are Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney and former commission official David O’Sullivan, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, as well as ex-Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.
Tanaiste Leo Varadkar ruled himself out of contention on Thursday morning. Boylesports consider McGuinness the 5/1 third favourite, behind Coveney and Fitzgerald.
Dundalk Muncipal District councillor Sean Kelly, of Fianna Fáil, was among those to throw his support behind McGuinness on Thursday. “Party politics aside,” he wrote, “Mairead McGuinness has always served Ireland with distinction and represented our best interested at home and abroad. Excellent on media and a tough negotiator, we need someone of her calibre at this crucial point on the EU Commission.”