Crowley has best record of attending MEP sittings

 

EUROPE:FIANNA FÁIL MEP Brian Crowley has the best attendance record of all 13 Irish sitting MEPs while Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald has the worst, new figures show.

Mr Crowley, who is leader of the Fianna Fáil delegation in the parliament, attended 94 per cent of the monthly plenary sessions at the European Parliament where new EU legislation is debated and voted on.

He travelled to 282 out of a total of 299 sessions, according to Votewatch.eu, a non-profit organisation that published the parliament’s official attendance records in a user-friendly website format yesterday.

Ms McDonald has the worst record of all 13 Irish MEPs. The website shows she attended just 57 per cent of all plenary sessions or 171 out of 299 meetings, although the Dublin MEP last night said the website’s statistics were “plain wrong”.

“That figure is wrong. We have the official record from the parliamentary services, which I intend to put on my website and I am sitting somewhere around 75 per cent on this,” said Ms McDonald, who also took six months off on maternity leave in 2006.

“I had my baby in February 2006 – from January I couldn’t travel for obvious reasons,” she said.

Following a complaint by Ms McDonald yesterday, the administrators of Votewatch.eu last night took the Sinn Féin MEP’s attendance records offline due to her maternity leave.

Attendance at the parliament’s monthly plenary sessions is a crucially important measure of an MEP’s commitment to their role as co-legislator on EU legislation.

Twelve times a year, all 786 MEPs in the 2004-2009 parliament travel to Strasbourg for full week sessions. There are also mini-plenary sessions in Brussels every month, except August.

At these sessions, MEPs attend committees, make speeches, propose amendments to new EU legislation and vote on new European legislation that will become law in all EU states.

“To act as co-legislators, you have to be there to vote to change the laws and make changes,” said Mr Crowley, who added that, as co-president of Fianna Fáil’s political group in the parliament, he was probably attending sessions more than most of the MEPs.

The statistics published by Votewatch.eu show Irish MEPs have a pretty good record, with 12 out of 13 MEPs attending more than 83 per cent of all plenary sessions.

Two high-profile MEPs with poor attendance records include former TV personality British MEP Robert Kilroy Silk who attended 54 per cent of sessions and Phillipe de Villers, who has teamed up with Libertas in France, who attended 52 per cent.

The full list of attendance records for Irish MEPs shows:

  • Liam Aylward (91 per cent);
  • Colm Burke (86 per cent);
  • Brian Crowley (94 per cent);
  • Proinsias De Rossa (85 per cent);
  • Avril Doyle (89 per cent);
  • Marian Harkin (88 per cent); Jim Higgins (87 per cent);
  • Mary Lou McDonald (57 per cent);
  • Maireád McGuinness (84 per cent);
  • Gay Mitchell (90 per cent);
  • Seán Ó Neachtain (93 per cent);
  • Eoin Ryan (83 per cent); and
  • Kathy Sinnott (92 per cent).

Votewatch.eu, which is the brainchild of researchers working at the European Policy Centre think tank in Brussels and the London School of Economics, uses the parliament’s own attendance and voting records to help citizens access information on their MEPs.

The European Policy Centre’s Sara Hagemann said the website was “not about naming and shaming MEPs”.

“We want to make the way it works more transparent, so that voters can better understand how their MEPs are casting their vote on important issues which affect or concern them,” she added.

An analysis of the voting records of all Irish MEPs show that the 13 members vote as a national block about 68 per cent of the time. www.votewatch.eu