Writing is something I have always done even with the barrier of dyslexia. I have for my entire life expressed my passions and emotions with words on paper or keyboard.
I saw an advert for volunteer bloggers for Ripplezoo. I checked out their site and taught why not, maybe someone would eventually read what I write.
I got really lucky and was asked to write about something I am passionate about. The idea mulled in my head for a few days and then got put on a back burner. As I had something I am passionate about to do.
It’s a long drawn out back story that started in my childhood. I had a natural instinct on social justice and this led to politics in round about ways. I have stepped in and out of that area for a long time. Until 2019 when I took part in the largest conversation that ever happened and new path to democracy opened in Europe.
Civico Europea was founded in 2016. In 2018 they started the largest citizen innovation ever to be held. They utilize social media for European based question idea and voting opportunity. Citizens could vote on proposals ideas and put forward ideas of their own it resulted in The Top Ten Citizens of Europe. I am proud to say I am one of those ten, third in fact.
My idea was based on the environment and forestry. I asked that we stop planting cheap pine and revert to our natural forests and that for every tree felled, we plant five.
The nine other proposals were nearly all environmental related proving that before the 2019 European elections, the largest concern of European Citizens was the environment and not migration.
It resulted in the Green Wave election across Europe and my proposal out of all ten was the only one funded and researched by the European commission.
I never taught that one day I would be stood in the European Parliament putting my idea to them. Civico Europea put a democratic opportunity for Citizens voices to be heard within the EU.
This May they contacted us again to take part in a conference about our experience as Top Ten Europeans. From this conference came forward many ideas but three of them have been selected. One is an open letter to Angela Merkel on the proposed conference of Europe. This has come about from a coalition of many NGOs in Europe. The other is the conference of Europe but the two most passionate aspects of this entire process is the development of citizen assembly across Europe and that is most important to me is placing an urgency on the seven year budget to ensure the youth of Europe is not forgotten.
This July Civico Europea held an open discussion with Nicolas Smicht, the European commissioner for Social affairs and employment. It was up to us to find the marginalised youth in our area and persuade them to enter into a public conversation and put forward their issues and ideas.
I had the pleasure of being introduced by Pavee Point to Martin Reilly, a young Traveller who happens to live in emergency accommodation with his young wife and child. Martin, unlike me was articulate and passionate and I was proud to stand with him in solidarity as he put forward to Europe the issues faced by him and the Travelling community.
Democracy to me has always been of the people not the mudslinging you see in parliaments but from the ground up. During the Irish water charges battle democratic authorities were developed on street corners. With street meetings and votes and elected reps selected to act there and then it was based on soviet circles which were ever decreasing till the Right2Water committee was reached.
A model of this is CIVICO Europa
A non-profit, independent, and transnational association, aiming to give a new impulse to the European project and, specifically, to democracy and citizenship in a radically changing world.
CIVICO was born out of the May 9 Movement (M9M): a collection of individuals from all horizons, generations, and backgrounds who, after on May 9th 2016, came together to spur a revival of the European project, calling for citizens, opinion leaders, as well as national and European leaders, to launch a common reflection on the future of the EU. The resulting “May 9th Appeal for a European renaissance” gained significant momentum: it was published in several leading European newspapers, thousands of citizens expressed their eagerness to join the movement, and heads of states and government solicited members of the M9M, who were then received by the presidents of the European Commission and Council.
CIVICO was launched as a result of this appeal. Its first act was to author a report on “The European Way for a Better Future” structured around the realisation that in order to preserve our threatened democracies, and the EU specifically, their representative character must be complemented by a new form of direct and continuous civic participation. This appeal also was published and presented to high-level decision-makers (including presidents Juncker and Macron), thereby significantly contributing to the creation of the current political momentum for democratic consultations.
Since then, CIVICO has been working on this democratic complement, fuelled by its core belief that the time has come to reinvent the link between EU citizens and EU institutions and, generally, to bridge the representative gap in modern democracies.
Indeed, to guarantee the Union a sustainable future, citizens must now be placed at the heart of its political dynamic and regain ownership over their representation through enhanced participation and deliberation. CIVICO takes it as its mission to carry such change through any positive project aiming at empowering a European civic society and creating a citizens’ Europe.
The first of these projects is the #WeEuropeans initiative, so as I sat crocheting and wondering what was my deepest passion to wrote on I kept thinking of the desire to have a connected Europe that is not just a tick in a box once every 4 years. Instead it needs to be a place where European citizens voice is heard not a distance vote but a loud and equal voice within all the institutions of Europe.
This is what democracy looks like. Today I wrote this as Irelands Ambassador for Civico Europea.