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Irish 'cold-storage' MEPs Deirdre Clune and Barry Andrews have taken their seats

Fianna Fáil’s Barry Andrews has given his first address to parliament after what he called “a tough week” for his party.

IRISH MEPS WHO were elected to the European Parliament last May, but couldn’t take part until the UK officially left the EU, have finally taken their seats. 

Fine Gael’s Deirdre Clune and Fianna Fáil’s Barry Andrews are able to take up their roles as MEPs this week, and have taken part in the first plenary session of the European Parliament without the UK.

They haven’t been paid as MEPs since being elected. Clune, as a former MEP, was entitled to ‘transitional’ pay for 6 months after the last parliament dissolved.

Because of their election on 24 May last year, but the uncertainty of Brexit, it’s lead to the nickname ‘cold-storage- MEPs – meaning their tenure as a political representative had been put on hold until the UK agreed on the conditions under which it would leave.

This week

One of the first debates that Clune and Andrews will take part in is a resolution on the proposed mandate for trade negotiations between the EU and UK tomorrow.

Other issues up for discussion this week include the coronavirus, pet trafficking and threats posed by artificial intelligence.

In his first address to parliament, Andrews asked EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier to “continue to talk about the UK as a trading partner, and not a trading competitor, and not to imagine that the UK has to be punished in order for the EU to thrive”.

‘Brexit’ officially happened on 31 January this year; nothing much has changed because the UK is still a part of the EU’s Custom Union and Single Market.

The UK’s representation in the European Parliament – its 73 MEPs – was retracted after this, meaning other countries will get now get a few new MEP in their place.

27 of the UK’s seats will be redistributed among 14 EU member states, increasing Ireland’s representation from 11 MEPs to 13.

The remaining 46 UK seats have been set aside for future allocations should new member states join the EU.

- with reporting from Adam Daly

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