| Thomas Mc Grath
Administrator Euro Med Division, DG Relex (External Relations)
Originally from Dublin.
About your job: Responsible for Media, Information and Communication in the Euro-Mediterranean region; working with the Arab, Israeli and European media to assist in media development in the Euromed region, promoting freedom of expression and intercultural dialogue. The best part of the job is dealing with real people, real issues - the thought that perhaps my (our) efforts are making some difference, however small, in areas such as freedom of the press/independent media, xenophobic and racist media, safety and security of journalists, etc. The hardest part is trying to get consensus from sometimes intractable positioning with people and organisations from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Israel Turkey, Cyprus, Algeria, etc.
Why the EU? An international organisation that would allow me marry my dubious knowledge/skills in politics and journalism.
How do you think Ireland has benefited most from the EU? The economic benefits are well known and have been aired many times. However, the psychological boost that elevated Ireland from its insular status, its "ile derrier l'ile" mentality into a European nation among equals has been one of the greatest benefits.
Based: Brussels - with several missions to the Middle East and North Africa
Languages: 5 (English, Irish, French, Spanish, German) school, linguaphone and nightclasses
Books/Music: Van Morrison's 'Astral Weeks': The poetry, the arrangements, the musical breadth still as valid today almost 40 years after its release.
'The Story of Lucy Gault' by William Trevor: So much conveyed in so few words, an achingly lovely novel that totally captivates.