Fianna Fáil MEP Crowley says he would like to run for president

Mon, Sep 29, 2008, 01:00

FIANNA FÁIL MEP Brian Crowley has said he would like to run for the presidency in 2011. Mr Crowley, who is co-president of the UEN political group (Union for Europe of the Nations) in the European Parliament, said it would be a huge privilege to represent the people as Uachtarán na hÉireann.

“It is the highest office in the land and it would be great to go for it if the opportunity arose, but there are many other fine candidates coming forward,” said Mr Crowley, who added his first political priority was to run Fianna Fáil’s European election campaign in 2009.

He said the presidency would obviously not be as political as his present role as an MEP, but it would be a great privilege to do it. “The trust put in you by the people you have to reward by your energy and your time,” said Mr Crowley, who has built up valuable experience serving on President Mary McAleese’s Council of State between 1999 and 2004.

The Council of State is the body that advises the president of the day on the exercise of their discretionary, reserve powers. It can also temporarily exercise presidential duties when they cannot be exercised by either the president or the presidential commission.

Mr Crowley, who has topped the poll in Munster in the last three European elections, could face stiff competition for the Fianna Fáil party nomination from former taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Last week Mr Ahern’s daughter, Cecilia, told The Irish Times she thought her dad “would make a great president”. Senator Mary White, founder of Lir Chocolates, has also expressed interest in the Fianna Fáil nomination. Fianna Fáil TDs, Senators and MEPs have a vote if there is a contest for the nomination.

Mr Crowley also said that the Government should hold a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in the second half of next year. He said this was necessary to try to restore Ireland’s influence in Europe.

“There are consequences for us saying No: that is not scaremongering, it’s just reality. In a few years’ time when we are looking at a new environment package, or four years’ time when we are looking at reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. Where do we find good friends and allies – that is the type of influence you lose.”

He dismissed arguments made by No campaigners that holding a second vote on the treaty is undemocratic.

“We voted three times on abortion, twice on divorce, and three times to change the electoral system in Ireland and no one objected to these issues being voted on again, so I don’t see it as a barrier to having another referendum,” said Mr Crowley, who added that clarifications on neutrality, abortion and the commissioner issue could be negotiated.