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Veteran MEP Brian Crowley confirms he won't be contesting European Election

Due to ill-health, Crowley has missed the entire current European Parliament session.

File photo: MEP's Flanagan and Crowley have worst voting record among Irish delegates MEP Brian Crowley has not attend the European Parliament since 2014 because of il health. Source: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

FIANNA FÁIL MEP Brian Crowley has announced that he will not contest the European elections scheduled for May of this year. 

Crowley is the longest-serving Irish MEP in Europe having topped the poll in Munster in 1994.

However, due to ill-health, he has missed the entire current European Parliament. Crowley explained that due to a sustained bout of ill-health over recent years the decision not to contest again was forced upon him, despite his best efforts to regain full health.

“It breaks my heart to leave a job I absolutely love,” said Brian Crowley today at a press conference in Cork.

Working remotely 

“However, I count my blessings. No one received more support, in sickness and in health, than me from my constituents over the past 25 years.  It has been a privilege and a joy to serve such wonderful people,” added the MEP.

Crowley explained that he had been able to work remotely over recent times from his hospital bed and home base, through his office in Cork, the Group Secretariat in the European Parliament and his numerous contacts in other Political Groups and the Commission in Brussels.

He said he never kept his illness and treatment a secret – stating that the South constituency were willing to have a person with his medical disadvantages represent them.  

Crowley explained that today is the first opportunity he has had to explain his side of the story as to why he switched groups in the European Parliament back in 2014, which led to his expulsion from the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party. 

He said that he was forced to leave the Fianna Fáil aligned ALDE Group in Europe because they failed to agree employment contracts for some existing Irish staff.

“I took a principled stand at the time on behalf of fellow Irish workers who were being treated badly regarding employment contracts. These were not my staff but I negotiated on their behalf until those negotiations broke down.”

When Crowley left and joined a new group, ECR, it triggered his expulsion from the Fianna Fáil  Parliamentary Party.  

“I was disappointed at being expelled from my party without being given an opportunity to explain why I had to leave the ALDE Group, as I was in hospital at the time. Moving to a new EU Group wasn’t easy for me but I was able to secure new employment contracts for the Irish workers involved,” he said. 

“I continue to work with everyone, including Fianna Fáil grassroots members and FF parliamentary party members. My style was always to get on with things, get on with people, and that’s what I did over this term too.  I am still a proud member of the Fianna Fáil party,” he confirmed.

A statement issued by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said:

“Brian’s life has been one of service to his community and to the country. His personal story has also acted as an inspiration to many people as he refused to allow his disability, following an accident at 16 years of age, to hold him back from his vocation of public representation, in any way.

“Former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds recognised in Brian a person of great dedication, talent and charisma, and appointed him to Seanad Éireann in 1993. Shortly thereafter, in 1994, Brian sought a mandate for the European Parliament and has been returned there ever since, enjoying extraordinary support from the Irish people.

He described Crowley as “dedicated and dogged” in serving the people that voted for him in great numbers, adding that he “approached all issues with great enthusiasm and detail”.

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Martin described Crowley as “a passionate advocate for opening up the European institutions to the people and throughout his career he encouraged and welcomed people from all walks of life to visit Brussels and Strasbourg so that they could see how the EU parliament works”.

Addressing the health issues Crowley has faced in recent years, he said:

Brian’s health has suffered and I understand that his decision to retire will not have been an easy one, but I also know that Brian is a person of great resilience and great faith and I wish him the very best as he works to achieve a full recovery to good health.

European elections 2019

Earlier today, Fianna Fáil TD, Billy Kelleher confirmed speculation that he was interested in the role of MEP and said he would be seeking a nomination from the party. 

Yesterday, he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that Brussels and the European Parliament is going to play a “critical role for Ireland’s future in the years ahead” and he would like to be central to that. 

Other names being floated as a Fianna Fáil candidate in Europe are Mary Hanafin, Barry Andrews and Conor Lenihan.

With reporting from Christina Finn 

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Adam Daly

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