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OPINION: Could Crowley repeat his poll-topping performance?

Monday, 27th August, 2018 12:00pm
OPINION: Could Crowley repeat his poll-topping performance?

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ACCORDING to reports, Brian Crowley is ill and, since 2014, unable to fulfil his responsibilities as a member of the European Parliament. We send him our best wishes for a speedy recovery and we acknowledge that one thing is certain: he isn’t resigning from the Euro-Parliament, even though a clamour is growing for him to do so.

 Elements within his party, Fianna Fáil, demand that he should stand down. Kieran Hartley, the chap entrusted by the Soldiers of Destiny with the task of slipping into Crowley’s shoes as a substitute MEP, is becoming rather agitated at the Bandon politico’s unhurriedness in making up his mind. 

 Last month he urged Crowley to say yea or nay as to whether he will step aside, adding that if Crowley does not intend to return to Brussels because of poor health, he should hand over the seat to him, Hartley, without further delay!

 Hartley, you see, is not only a substitute MEP but also a potential winner who fancies his chances in holding Crowley’s seat in next May’s European Elections (should Crowley call it a day). But, unfortunately for him,  there are others of the same mind, such as Cork North Central’s Billy Kelleher and Clare’s Timmy Dooley who, claws extended, also have eyes on the lucrative prize.

 For his part, Crowley has not voted at all in the European Parliament, or attended any parliament committees, since his re-election four years ago.

 Consequently, the thwarted Mr Hartley is asking what’s the point of having a replacement politico who’s never required, despite the fact that Crowley is unable to attend the Euro-parliament but still manages to have a whopping €8,484-a-month salary, plus monthly allowances of €4,342.  Hartley is asking a logical question that Our Mickey is remarkably slow to answer.

 

PULLING NO PUNCHES

Even the old Lady of (formerly) Academy Street, De Paper, is unhappy, pulling no punches with an editorial that said ‘we cannot afford to have any of our parliamentary representatives not on their game’ before brutally concluding: ‘MEP Brian Crowley is clearly and consistently not on his game’ and that Ireland needed all the help it could get to retain influence in the EU’s corridors of power.  

 And then came De Paper’s hammer blow: ‘Mr Crowley currently is on sick leave.

 As such, he is entitled to a certain degree of sympathy for his ongoing illness but he is not entitled to continue being paid handsomely to represent his country when he is clearly not in a position to do so.  We cannot afford to have someone who is either unable or unwilling to represent us. It creates a democratic deficit and undermines the position of our ten other MEPs.  

 ‘His prolonged absence and continuing refusal to address it in any meaningful way does a grave disservice to the European Parliament, the country he represents and the Irish people who voted him in. It is incumbent on Michael Martin, as party leader, to persuade Mr Crowley to resign his seat and not leave him in situ until parliamentary elections next year.’

 The harshness of the comments had their origin in the fact that Crowley is a full member of the powerful Euro-parliament’s legal affairs committee and a substitute member of the industry, research and energy committee, but he has made no public contributions to any of those important committees over the past four years.

 

LOONEY TOONS

Complicating matters is the fact that Crowley is no longer a member of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party, having been kicked out by Our Mickey over his refusal to join the Euro-parliament group, ALDE, to which Fianna Fáil belongs. (ALDE means Alliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe, not to be confused with ALDI, the supermarket chain!) 

 Mickey’s decision to expel Crowley meant that Fianna Fáil is now in the situation of having no presence among MEPs in the European Parliament (Sinn Féin has 3, Fine Gael 4, Independents 3).  

 Crowley’s ‘sin’ was to join ECR  (Conservative and Reformist Group), a far right collection of loopers which is dominated by pro-Brexit members of the British Conservative Party who welcomed to their group crypto-fascists engaged in extending political control over public media and the judiciary in Poland.  It compared a drag queen winner of the Eurovision Song Contest to a “genetically modified organism”. 

 Crowley has no problems belonging to an extremist, odd-ball organisation, even though Mickey told him that his membership of the ERC “was not compatible in any shape or form with Fianna Fáil’s republican views”. It was a rebuke that a few years ago would have seriously damaged the political future of any FF politico, were it not for the Euro-Parliament camaraderie that Fianna Fáil  has with hobos such as the Danish People’s Party, Italy’s Lega Nord, and Fatherland and Freedom whose members every year pay homage to the Latvian Waffen-SS.

 Back in the good old days (circa 2009) when Fianna Fáil had four MEPs, the party hung out with the UEN group which included the above quasi-fascist outfits.  It was an inappropriate place to be and a national embarrassment for the Soldiers of Destiny.

 

RESIGNING MATTER?

All that aside, the problem at issue is whether Crowley should resign his seat. But then, why?  Let’s not forget that he was elected in 2014 with the single largest vote in Ireland, much of which was a personal vote, and there is no reason to suggest that he could not repeat the feat on a future occasion.

 Recently, Luke ‘Ming the Merciless’ Flanagan MEP was asked on a radio programme what he thought of the situation whereby Crowley was unable to contribute to work carried out by Euro-Parliament committees, even though all MEPs were required to be members of parliamentary committees.   

 Ming’s response displayed a mixture of kindness and frankness. He said it was difficult to pass judgement on ‘a very sensitive’ issue but, he added, there were 24 committees in the European Parliament and that Ireland was entitled to representation on fewer than half of them. 

He argued (in a fashion similar to De Paper) that any Irish non-participation in committee work diminished our influence in Brussels. 

 According to Mr Ming, it would be much better for Ireland if Brian Crowley did attend meetings as every vote counted and on some occasions votes were very close. One vote, he said, can make a difference and in matters relating to Brexit, Ireland certainly needed more numbers at committee level, adding that if the work can be done without voting, then ‘why would we need MEPS?’

 Being present for votes in parliament was an essential element of an MEP’s job, he said, and in regard to Mr Crowley’s future, if he were in his position, he would resign.