Jack Lynch would ‘be spinning in his grave’ over Crowley move

Micheál Martin says FF cannot be linked to a group with racist or homophobic views

Former Fianna Fáil taoiseach Jack Lynch and minister for foreign affairs Dr Patrick Hillery signing the treaty of accession to the European Economic Community  in Brussels in  1972. Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the two would be spinning in their graves over Brian Crowley’s decision to join the ECR group in the European Parliament. Photograph: Pat Langan/The Irish Times.

Former Fianna Fáil taoiseach Jack Lynch and minister for foreign affairs Dr Patrick Hillery signing the treaty of accession to the European Economic Community in Brussels in 1972. Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the two would be spinning in their graves over Brian Crowley’s decision to join the ECR group in the European Parliament. Photograph: Pat Langan/The Irish Times.

 

Former taoiseach Jack Lynch and his close ally Paddy Hillery would be “spinning in their graves” at the idea of Fianna Fáil aligning itself with the right-wing European group MEP Brian Crowley has joined, party leader Micheál Martin has said.

Mr Martin said it was completely unacceptable for Fianna Fáil to have any association with the European Conservative and Reformist (ECR) body, given the views of some of the right-wing parties which make up the European Parliament group.

“The bottom line is we cannot be associated with a group that are very racist in their views and who have very strident, unacceptable views in relation to homosexuality,” Mr Martin told The Opinion Line on Cork’s 96FM.

“For example, some of their members have criminal convictions in relation to stirring up ethnic agitation through racists slurs. The True Finns for example, they are very hardline, and there’s no way our party would be associated with that given our republican ethos.”

Mr Martin was speaking after Mr Crowley, who topped the poll for Fianna Fáil in the Ireland South constituency in the recent European elections, was expelled from the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.

Mr Martin said Fianna Fáil, under the leadership of then taoiseach Mr Lynch and his minister for foreign affairs Mr Hillery, had played a leading role in Ireland gaining membership of the then European Economic Community in 1973.

Joining a grouping like the ECR with its strong euroscepticism as well as some strident right-wing views would be completely anathema to both Mr Lynch and Mr Hillery and their firm belief that Ireland’s future lay within Europe.

“We cannot be associated in any shape or form with that group, which is not compatible with the views of our party, which brought Ireland into the European Union through the work of Jack Lynch and Paddy Hillery,” said Mr Martin.

“I think both of them would be spinning in their graves if they ever thought that Fianna Fáil even contemplated being associated with some of these groups (within the ECR), and that association would have done a lot of damage to us over time.”

Mr Martin said he did not believe Mr Crowley shared the extreme views of some of the parties within the group, but the fact was that Mr Crowley had made a unilateral decision to leave the Alliance of Liberal and Democrats (ALDE) to sign up.

“The bottom line is that Brian took this decision himself without any recourse to the party, without any consultation with the party or without going through the issues with the party in terms of politics - and no one individual can decide the policies of party in a manner like this,” he said.

“Brian took this unilateral decision himself - Brian took the decision, he left our group (in Europe) and his decision to do that and join the ECR was something that was unacceptable to the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.”

Mr Martin rejected any suggestion that Mr Crowley’s decision to move without consulting with the Fianna Fáil hierarchy stemmed from any issue he might have had over the party’s decision not to contest the 2011 presidential election.

Mr Crowley had previously stated he would like to run for Áras an Uachtaráin and, as recently as last month following his election success, again indicated he would like the opportunity to stand for Fianna Fáil in a presidential election.

Mr Martin said he didn’t believe the current controversy was in any way “a hangover” from the presidential issue, and he had spoken to Mr Crowley frequently over the past fortnight and relations between them remain “cordial”, he said.

Mr Crowley is currently hospitalised in Cork. A spokesman confirmed he would not be making any comment or issuing any statement in relation to Fianna Fail withdrawing the party whip from him until he is discharged from hospital.