From sheds to Brussels: Irish association nominated for EU award

The Irish Men’s Sheds Association has been nominated for the 2018 European Citizen’s Prize in a joint move by Irish MEPs Sean Kelly, Mairead McGuinness, Brian Hayes and Deirdre Clune.

The prestigious award recognises projects or individuals that promote cross-border cooperation and EU values.

Speaking on behalf of the delegation, leader of Fine Gael in the European Parliament, Sean Kelly said: “Having met with and spoken at many of the Irish Men’s Sheds Association events, I am delighted that the Fine Gael delegation has put forward this very positive community-based initiative for the European Citizen’s Prize.”

Integration

In proposing the Irish organisation for the accolade, the Fine Gael delegation said the movement “has distinguished itself in strengthening European integration”.

“The Men’s Sheds motto is ‘Men don’t talk face to face. They talk shoulder to shoulder’. It creates a space where men can otherwise discuss health issues and emotions; while engaging in purposeful activities.

This advances the health and well-being of the participating men by combatting issues such as loneliness and isolation; while also creating a culture where men can openly discuss their thoughts and feelings without stigma.

“It has shown how integration is one of its key values by being a dedicated, friendly and welcoming meeting place where men – regardless of age, background or ability – come together and undertake a variety of mutually agreed activities.

“These activities include carpentry, bike and vehicle repairs, upholstery, gardening, bee keeping, painting, singing, developing IT skills, and playing cards,” the four MEPs stated in their official nomination.

“The association is part of a larger network of Men’s Sheds associations in England, Scotland, Wales, Finland, and Greece – thereby inducing European cohesion and it provides information, resources and support for others to set up their own ‘sheds’.

“Together with the other European branches, it is strengthening European integration and so we are delighted to nominate them for this prize,” the MEPs concluded.

Sheds

The Irish Men’s Sheds Association has sheds dotted across the country making them accessible to farmers and rural dwellers in every county. The organisation’s core values include honesty and openness, equality and inclusion and leadership.

There are almost 400 registered ‘sheds’ around Ireland and each week almost 10,000 men (from both north and south of the border) attend Men’s Sheds events, according to the association.

The European Citizen’s Prize

The European Citizen’s Prize celebrates projects and initiatives that facilitate cross-border cooperation or promote mutual understanding and EU values.

Winners will be announced later this year ahead of an official prize-giving ceremony at the European Parliament, Brussels, in October.

This nomination follows the successful submission of the Irish youth organisation, Foroige, by the Fine Gael / EPP Group MEPs last year which won the 2017 European Citizen’s Prize.