26 April 2016
A day in the life of an MEP
Diane Dodds is a DUP member of the European Parliament, representing her Northern Ireland constituency. She has offices in Brussels, Strasbourg and Lisburn. Here, she tells idea what a day in the life of Diane is like in Brussels.
''I wake up between 7 and 7.30am and frequently go for a morning walk through Avenue Louise before starting a long day in the European Parliament. I arrive at my office around 8.30am, where my first item of business is a run through of my agenda for the day with my assistant, Laurie. Breakfast for me normally consists of scrambled eggs, toast and a coffee to start the day.
In the world of an MEP, the saying often goes that no one day is the same. The reality is that the political system we are part of in Brussels and Strasbourg is far-detached from the practices that have become so familiar to us all at Stormont and Westminster. Therefore, while the role presents the normal challenges of working hard for people right across Northern Ireland, it also gives fresh opportunities that don't exist at home.
Much of my work in the European Parliament revolves around the three Fs - farming, fishing and funding. Since 2009, I have been a member of the agriculture and fisheries committees, advocating measures that support local agriculture, help our fishermen and connect rural dwellers. I've also produced a Signposts to Funding series of publications to raise awareness of money that exists at an EU level to support local communities. One of the most successful of these guides has been for churches and faith-based organisations.
Although this has been the bread and butter of my work, I have also been able to champion a variety of causes that are very close to my own heart. As a member of the EP's intergroup on freedom of religion or belief and religious tolerance, I've hosted seminars to allow Christians who have been violently persecuted in countries like Nigeria to share their story to a global audience.
Only this week I participated in a conference promoting fundamental rights and freedom of expression in China. I'm also vice president of the parliamentary working group on human dignity, a role that has given me a platform to speak up for the right of the unborn child and speak against modern slavery and assisted suicide.
These are values that I hold dear. I'm not a politician who believes their beliefs should simply be cast aside when they turn up for work. I don't believe in forgetting the principles that have shaped and guided me. For these reasons I'm thankful each day to have the opportunity to represent our province in Europe.
I usually leave Parliament at around 7pm, and to unwind I like to FaceTime my two-year-old grandson, Henry."