Crowley no longer member of FF parliamentary party

MEP’s decision to join Eurosceptic group ‘totally incompatible’ with party principles

Fianna Fáil MEP Brian Crowley who is no longer a member of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.

Fianna Fáil MEP Brian Crowley who is no longer a member of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.

 

Ireland South MEP Brian Crowley is no longer a member of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.

The long-serving Cork politician lost the party whip as a consequence of his decision to depart from the Alde group in the European Parliament to join the Eurosceptic European Conservative and Reformist group.

The Fianna Fáil parliamentary party met to discuss his move today and afterwards party whip Seán Ó Fearghaíl and chairman Brendan Smith released a joint statement.

“At today’s meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party, it was agreed that the ideas and principles of the ECR group and its component parties are totally incompatible with the core principles of Fianna Fáil, The Republican Party,” they said.

“We do not believe it is in the interest of the Fianna Fáil party and its members to have any association with the ECR in the European Parliament.

“As a direct consequence of Brian Crowley’s unilateral decision to join the ECR group he has removed himself from the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.”

A further move to remove Mr Crowley’s party membership is not expected.

The decision to remove the whip was taken without a vote. Party leader Micheál Martin recommended the course of action at the start of the meeting.

Kerry Senator Mark Daly said he did not support the motion and asked that his dissent be recorded.

A number of TDs said Mr Crowley, who is in hospital, should be allowed to address the parliamentary party. According to some of those at the meeting, these deputies included senior figures such as Michael McGrath, Eamon Ó Cuív and John Browne.

Limerick TD Willie O’Dea said he would like to see Mr Crowley return to the parliamentary party.

“It’s very sad to lose Brian Crowley. I’ve tremendous personal regard for him and he’s an outstanding politician. I don’t agree with his joining that group. Their views would be anathema to me and most of the people I represent,” Mr O’Dea said.

“The best think to happen would be Brian ultimately coming back into the parliamentary party, but in order to do that he’d have to leave that group.”

Earlier, Mr Ó Fearghaíl had said Mr Crowley’s move posed “major difficulties” for the party.

“It does pose major difficulties for us no doubt about that because of the respect people have for Brian,” Mr Ó Fearghail said ahead of the meeting.

He said the MEP was hugely popular with the public and respected within Fianna Fáil, but had joined a political grouping with which the party had “absolutely nothing in common”.

The move had not been discussed with the party in advance, Mr Ó Fearghaíl told The Irish Times.

Asked if Mr Martin’s authority had been damaged by MrCrowley’s move , Mr Ó Fearghaíl said it was not.

He said Mr Martin had dealt with the issue as best he could. Mr Crowley’s decision came “completely out of the blue”.

It was a “complete surprise” coming in the aftermath of what was a “wonderful” election for the party’s only MEP.

Senior TDs said last night it was no longer tenable for Mr Crowley, who topped the poll in his constituency last month, to remain within the parliamentary party.

“If you take this course of action, then you move on,” said one TD, who did not want to state his position before today’s meeting.

“It would be like someone here joining the technical group and it’s not dissimilar to Lucinda [Creighton]leaving the Fine Gael parliamentary party but remaining a member of the party.”

Mr Martin’s spokesman said Mr Crowley had gone against “50 years of Fianna Fáil economic and foreign policy”.