Designing a common food policy would be a priority for Green Party MEP candidate Saoirse McHugh if elected to the European Parliament.

Speaking on RTE Radio 1, McHugh said securing a place on the agricultural committee of the Parliament would be her first step in Brussels.

McHugh has emerged as a surprise candidate for a seat in the Midlands North-West constituency following a strong performance on a RTE Prime Time debate and an overall urge in support for Green Party candidates.

A poll conducted by RED C placed the 28-year-old from Achill Island with 12% of the vote ahead of Independent Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan and Fine Gael’s Maria Walsh on 10%. These three candidates are likely to be in a battle for the final two seats in the constituency.

Agriculture policy

McHugh is an advocate for sustainable farming and said a common food policy would help line up agricultural policy in all regions of Europe.

“Agriculture has a golden opportunity if it is done right. There are so many farmers hurting at the moment,” she said.

McHugh called for agriculture to be refocused around farmers, the environment and the community and away from exporters and increasing production levels.

Growing networks

When asked what her plans were if she was not elected, McHugh said she would end up working in farming.

She plans to set up networks of growers, starting initially on Achill Island, in a bid to “re-localise the food system”.

On wider Government policy, McHugh said environmental planning needed to be mainstreamed into every decision taken.

She emphasised that pushing responsibility down the line on to individuals would not work without sweeping changes from the top down.

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