The European elections take place at a time of global political instability. There are always conflicts all over the planet, but whether you’re in Brussels, Bucharest or Ballinsloe, it’s closer than it has been for a long time.

Watching the unfolding horror in Gaza and the now two-year-old Russian invasion of Ukraine brings a realisation that we can’t take peace and prosperity for granted.

This is the 10th time Ireland will vote in an election to the European Parliament. It was only in 1979, six years after we joined the European Economic Community (EEC), that direct elections first took place.

It’s likely that this will be the most polarised parliament yet, with the rise of the right in founder member states like Italy and the Netherlands in sharp contrast to the steady increase in green and left MEPs in recent elections.

These elections matter.

For farmers, of course, the European elections always matter.

The importance of this election is seen across the following pages, where we focus on the key issues for Irish agriculture that the next parliament will have to tackle.

We look at the the various political groupings within the parliament, and how they align with Irish political parties and independent politicians.

We explain how the parliament functions are part of the three-legged stool alongside the European Commission and the member states’ governments through the various ministerial councils.

We ask the farm organisations for their priority lists, and, as we move towards polling day itself, we talk you through exactly how to cast your vote to ensure you get the result you want.

Proud tradition

Ireland has greatly benefited from our membership of the European Union, and in turn, Europe has benefited from Ireland’s participation.

It’s important that we return 14 MEPs who can maintain the proud tradition of people like TJ Maher, who represented rural Ireland with such distinction.

Voting is a privilege Irish people have, both a democratic right and a civic duty. Please make sure to vote on Friday 7 June.