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What a way to go: Fianna Fáil agrees that Brian Crowley expelled himself

The Fianna Fáil parliamentary party met today to discuss Crowley’s “bewildering” actions.

Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Updated 2.25pm 

FIANNA FÁIL’S PARLIAMENTARY party has met this afternoon where there was broad agreement that its only MEP Brian Crowley has effectively expelled himself.

The Ireland South MEP announced yesterday that he is joining the strongly conservative and eurosceptic group European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) in the European Parliament.

A senior Fianna Fáil TD described Crowley’s actions in recent days as ‘bewildering’ and said the party had been left reeling.

TDs and Senators met at midday today to discuss events with one source saying that by his actions Crowley had effectively expelled himself from the parliamentary party by defecting from the more liberal ALDE grouping to the ECR.

Many members of the parliamentary party, including leader Micheál Martin, are said to have expressed disappointment at Crowley’s decision while others including former deputy leader Éamon Ó Cuív said that the MEP, who is currently in hospital, should be allowed to explain himself.

In a joint statement issued this afternoon, party chairman Brendan Smith and whip Seán Ó Fearghaíl said that members agreed that the ideas and principles of the ECR group are “totally incompatible with the core principles of Fianna Fáil, The Republican Party”.

“We do not believe it is in the interest of the Fianna Fáil party and its members to have any association with the ECR in the European Parliament. As a direct consequence of Brian Crowley’s unilateral decision to join the ECR group he has removed himself from the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party.”

The parliamentary party meeting today had power to remove the whip from Crowley, but can’t expel him from the party altogether.

That decision can only be taken by the party’s 100-member National Executive, which would need a majority of two-thirds for an expulsion. There have been no immediate moves for the matter to be put before the Executive.

One source within the party said that such a vote would be difficult to pass given Crowley’s popularity within Fianna Fáil. Another said there was “no real need” to expel Crowley from the party altogether given he is now outside the parliamentary ranks.

It had been assumed that Crowley would remain a member of ALDE, considered a more liberal group in the European Parliament which Fianna Fáil is aligned to, and which Crowley had campaigned under during the elections in May.

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He secured over 180,000 first preference votes but relied primarily on his huge personal vote making little of his affiliations to Fianna Fáil whom he fell out with in 2011 when he unsuccessfully tried to run for the presidency.

Earlier, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, the Fianna Fáil whip, said the party had been presented with a fait accompli by Crowley.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland programme, Ó Fearghaíl said that Crowley had made a “unilateral decision” to transfer to a group with which Fianna Fáil had nothing in common.

Ó Fearghaíl rejected the suggestion that Martin’s authority had been damaged, saying that the same thing would have happened regardless of who was leader.

- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell 

First published 10.01am 

Read: ‘Unacceptable’: Fianna Fáil is NOT happy with Crowley’s move to Eurosceptic group > 

Read: Fianna Fáil says Brian Crowley’s move to Eurosceptic group is ‘unacceptable’ > 

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Christine Bohan

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