Schulz Campaign on the Right Track in Ireland
The Irish leg of Martin Schulz's European tour took him to Belfast this afternoon. Schulz travelled up from Dublin by train with a delegation of Irish Labour Party and SDLP youth members. Upon arrival in Belfast, the group joined a campaign rally at the symbolic Belfast Waterfront with MEP candidate Alex Attwood of the SDLP. The visit provided another boost to Attwood on the day that polls gave the clearest sign yet that he could regain a seat in the European Parliament for the SDLP.
Schulz was delighted to be in Belfast for the first time and took great pleasure in the train journey from South to North, talking to the young party members about their campaign plans for the coming weeks. Schulz was also followed on this latest leg of his European campaign by a Belgian national television crew and reporters from several EU countries. They were all impressed by Schulz's multilingual campaign and his ability to connect with and inspire party members and voters beyond his home country.
Speaking at the Belfast Campaign Rally, in front of the historic docks where the Titanic was built, Schulz told the crowd how important a vote for the SDLP could be in changing the direction of Europe, "This is a historic election, where every extra MEP we can secure for the Socialist Group in the European Parliament counts towards our goal to elect me as the President of the European Commission. After the past five years of painful austerity policies, we need a change of political direction away from the conservative policies of recent years. It is time for Europe to reverse measures which force cuts in healthcare, welfare and education that have been the hallmark of the last 5 years."
Drawing warm applause from the young supporters in the room, Schulz promised to focus his efforts on stimulating youth employment with a new credit regime for small businesses. Schulz spoke of his own experiences as a small bookshop owner, and the pride he felt when he first started his apprenticeship and then handed over the business to one of his employees when he took up his role at the European Parliament. "A job is not just about having a salary" said Schulz, "It is also about the dignity of being independent and building your own place in society."
Alex Attwood and SDLP Leader Alasdair McDonnell were delighted to see Schulz in Belfast three weeks before the elections, giving a real boost to the campaign. They acknowledged the extraordinary pan-European tour that Schulz is currently embarking on, and thanked him for his inclusive approach and for making them a part of his campaign. "We are convinced that Martin Schulz is the best candidate and that he will be the next President of the European Commission" said McDonnell as he introduced Schulz to the stage. Attwood promised that for the next three weeks the SDLP "will build on the momentum of this day and do everything possible to 'knockthevote' for Martin until the vote in Northern Ireland on 22 May."
Martin Schulz's next stops on his campaign tour are Poland on 1 May, Germany on 2-4 May, and then Portugal on 6 May. He will then hold a press conference in Brussels on 7 May setting out his policy programme, before going on to Florence on 9 May for the next televised debate against his fellow candidates. More details on the campaign can be found at www.martin-schulz.eu