Former Donegal Dáil Deputy, Niall Blaney, has said he's received a lot of favourable reaction to the announcement that he is seeking the Fianna Fáil nomination to contest next year's European election.
"Since my decision to seek a nomination was made public on Monday, I've had contact from a lot of people across the Midlands Northwest constituency," he said.
"The reaction has been extremely positive, but people have concerns about Brexit and have concerns about being neglected simply because they live north of the Galway Dublin line. The electorate want to know that their corner will be fought in Europe, that infrastructure such as broadband will be delivered and that European directives and regulations will reflect real life," he added.
The former public representative, who was first elected as a Donegal County Councillor in 1999, has been busy travelling around the 13-county Midlands North West constituency in recent weeks where he needs to secure the FF nomination.
"I'm meeting as many people from the organisation as I possibly can and that ground work has been going really well."
The continuing uncertainty around Brexit is an issue which Ireland's MEPs will have to deal with after next May's elections.
"Brexit is bringing many challenges for our country that need to be addressed. I do believe there will also be opportunities and that some of those can be realised at a European level. But from a north-south point of view, I think it begs the question why relationships weren't developed further than they have been over the last number of years.
"I feel that the Irish government needs to be doing more to enhance the relationship with our neighbours. From the point of view of developing our infrastructure and national development plans, we need to be doing a lot better. For the Irish government to be releasing development plans and not recognising that the North exists at all is short-sighted. If you see an Irish government development plan launched, you'll see a blank when it comes to including Northern Ireland - it's being treated as if it simply doesn't exist. It's hard enough in counties like Donegal to be cut off by the border, but it's harder again when what's on the other side of the border is ignored. That way of going makes it much harder for us to get our fair share. I really believe that a fight can be brought to Europe to bring a more balanced regional development," he said.
The Midlands North West constituency is currently served by Luke 'Ming' Flanagan (Roscrea in Roscommon), Matt Carthy (Carrickmacross in Monaghan), Marian Harkin (Sligo town) and Mairead McGuinness (Navan, Meath).
"There is no way everyone is going to be close to their MEP geographically. To me it's about the candidate being accessible, on the ground and contactable - that's a strong point for me."
Given that his party failed to take a seat in the last European elections in the Midlands North West constituency in 2014 when running two candidates - Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher and Thomas Byrne, took almost 18 per cent of the vote between them - Niall Blaney acknowledged that he has a a tough battle ahead.
"But I am determined to do my utmost to ensure that the people of the Midlands Northwest constituency have their concerns addressed in Europe," he added.

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