FF disputes MEP Brian Crowley claim over European Parliament staff

Crowley says he has moved to the European Conservative and Reformist (ECR) group not for ‘any personal gain’

Brian  Crowley said  “the ECR group is a non-federalist, pro-EU group who believes in giving a much stronger say to national governments rather than to EU institutions”. Photograph: Eric Luke

Brian Crowley said “the ECR group is a non-federalist, pro-EU group who believes in giving a much stronger say to national governments rather than to EU institutions”. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Fianna Fáil has disputed claims by its only MEP, Brian Crowley, that he joined a Eurosceptic grouping in the European Parliament partly to protect the jobs of his Irish staff in Brussels.

Mr Crowley said his move from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) to the European Conservative and Reformist (ECR) group was “not for any personal gain”.

“My new group will allow me work more effectively for my constituents in Ireland South,” he said in a statement. “I also made this move to protect some jobs of Irish staff in Brussels.

“The ECR group is now the third-biggest group in the EU and its priorities include creating long-term jobs and prosperity for member countries, which matches my policy priority.”

Surgery

Fianna Fáil claimed Mr Crowley had been told the staff positions were safe, and said ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt had personally contacted Mr Crowley to offer him such reassurances.

A joint statement from Fianna Fáil chairman Brendan Smith and chief whip Seán Ó Fearghaíl described Mr Crowley’s new grouping as Eurosceptic and said his move was “unacceptable, particularly given the fact that Brian successfully ran for election under the ALDE banner.

“ALDE had also committed to and agreed to Brian’s request to keep on two administrative staff for the coming parliamentary session,” the statement said.

“We are disappointed with Brian’s personal decision to join the ECR and by doing so align himself to policies and political parties that directly contradict core principles of the Fianna Fáil organisation. These include the group’s Eurosceptic stance and its position on membership of the euro zone.”

Non-federalist

group Mr Crowley said “the ECR g

roup is a non-federalist, pro-EU group who believes in giving a much stronger say to national governments rather than to EU institutions”.

Mr Crowley was never particularly close to ALDE. He is understood to have been approached in recent times by a number of rival groups, among them the ECR.

He was also approached by factions within the centre-right European People’s Party, Fine Gael’s European affiliate.

ALDE said it could not understand the move and added Mr Crowley was now “sitting with Eurosceptics, anti-Europeans, unionists and Tories”.