Brian Crowley rumoured to be moving to new group in EU parliament

Ireland South MEP call into question membership of liberal group

Ireland South MEP Brian Crowley: in prolonged but fruitless talks about resources with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. Photograph: Frank Miller

Ireland South MEP Brian Crowley: in prolonged but fruitless talks about resources with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

Fianna Fáil’s only MEP has called into question his membership of the liberal group in the European Parliament, fanning speculation in the party about an offer he has received to join the Eurosceptic group led by Britain’s Tories.

Ireland South MEP Brian Crowley, who received more than 180,000 first-preference votes in the European elections last month, has been in prolonged but fruitless talks about resources with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).

“I haven’t signed up for any group as of yet. Other groups have approached me,” Mr Crowley said yesterday.

Any move by Mr Crowley to bypass the liberals would be bad news for Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who remains wedded to membership of ALDE.

Rival groups

After Fianna Fáil’s loss of seats held by Pat the Cope Gallagher and Liam Alyward in last month’s elections, Mr Crowley is the party’s sole representative in the European assembly. At issue in the haggling with ALDE is his insistence on his right to retain two Irish staff on his parliamentary team. “If the Irish staff would be properly accommodated for, that’s where I will be,” Mr Crowley said. He declined to comment further.

Deadline tomorrow

The time remaining for a settlement with ALDE is short as the deadline falls tomorrow for all political groups in the 751-member parliament to reconstitute themselves in the wake of the election.

Reports on the progress of Mr Crowley’s talks with ALDE have varied in recent days. There was confidence in Fianna Fáil circles last week that a deal would be done with Mr Crowley but none has transpired thus far.

The ECR group was established in 2009 after British Tory leader David Cameron, then in opposition, took the Conservatives out of the EPP because it was too federalist in its European outlook.

The group has voted since the election to admit Alternative für Deutschland, a German party that calls for weaker member states to leave the euro currency and opposes a free trade agreement with the US.