Attendance rate of Irish MEPs at European Parliament improves

New figures show average attendance rate of 81 per cent in 2015, up from 76 per cent

Ireland South MEP Brian Crowley: His non-attendance  due to illness meant that Ireland had one of the lowest participation rates in the European Union. Mr Crowley continues to participate in European Parliament work through his office in Cork. Photograph: Michael MacSweeney/Provision

Ireland South MEP Brian Crowley: His non-attendance due to illness meant that Ireland had one of the lowest participation rates in the European Union. Mr Crowley continues to participate in European Parliament work through his office in Cork. Photograph: Michael MacSweeney/Provision

 

The attendance rate for Irish MEPs attending the European Parliament’s plenary sessions rose in 2015, new figures show.

However, the non-attendance of Ireland South MEP Brian Crowley due to illness meant that Ireland had one of the lowest participation rates in the European Union.

New figures from European Movement Ireland show Ireland’s MEPs had an average attendance rate of 81 per cent in 2015, up from 76 per cent in the second half of 2014.

However, this increased to 89 per cent when data for Mr Crowley is excluded.

Unable to travel

A spokesman for Mr Crowley, who has been confined to Cork University Hospital due to illness, said the Cork MEP was unable to travel to Brussels or Strasbourg but intended to do so when his health allowed.

He is also continuing to participate in European Parliament work through his office in Cork, the spokesman said.

Mr Crowley, who was first elected to the European Parliament in 1994, was re-elected as an MEP in the European elections in May 2014. He has not voted at the European Parliament since his re-election to the parliament two years ago, according to data from VoteWatch Europe.

Mr Crowley controversially left the European Parliament’s liberal group Alde, of which Fianna Fáil is a member, to join the European Conservatives and Reformist (ECR) group after the 2014 European elections, a move that led to his expulsion from the Fianna Fáil party by Micheál Martin. The decision to expel Mr Crowley meant that Fianna Fáil has no presence among MEPs in the European Parliament.

Recalibration of seats

Following a recalibration of seats ahead of the 2014 European elections, Ireland saw a reduction in the number of its MEPs from 12 to 11. Fine Gael holds four of those seats, Sinn Féin has three, while the remainder are held by Mr Crowley and three Independent MEPs, Nessa Childers, Marian Harkin and Luke Flanagan.

According to European Movement Ireland’s Accountability Report for 2015, Irish MEPs delivered 1,741 speeches in 2015, the highest number recorded since the non-profit body began monitoring the performance of Irish MEPs six years ago.

A total of 525 parliamentary questions were asked by Irish MEPs during the year.