MEP Brian Crowley says he will not run in European elections
Fianna Fáil politician for Ireland South topped the poll in the 2014 elections
Brian Crowley says the Ireland South voters were not disenfranchised by his non-attendance in the current parliament though he admitted “they deserved better”.
The poll-topping politician said his health will not allow him conduct the type off personalised election campaign he would like to run to seek re-election.
Mr Crowley (54) has missed all of the current parliament sittings since his re-election in 2014 when he won 180,329 first preferences to take the first seat on the first count. He was first elected to the European Parliament to represent Fianna Fáil in Munster in 1994.
He had been able to work remotely over recent times from his hospital bed and home base in Cork, he told a press conference in Cork. He said he had regained sufficient health to allow him to resume attending the current parliament in February, March and April until his mandate expired in May.
He would greatly miss the opportunity to represent the people of the region.
“It breaks my heart to leave a job I absolutely love. However, I count my blessings. No one received more support, in sickness and in health, than me from my constituents over the past 25 years. It has been a privilege and a joy to serve such wonderful people,” he said.
Mr Crowley said that as a result of his disability, sustained when he was paralysed from the hips down following a fall of a roof at the age of 16, he suffered in terms of his lower limbs with muscle tone, blood circulation and bone density all being impacted. In particular, his disability had made his skin subject to wounds and over the past 3½ years he had undergone more than 30 separate surgeries under general anaesthetic to carry out skin grafts and other procedures to try and remedy the problem.
He said the problem had been cured to the extent that he now had only one open wound to deal with. While he would be in a position to return to Brussels and Strasbourg for the remainder of this parliamentary term, his health would not allow him carry out the type of election campaign he wanted.
“I have always run my campaign on a personal basis that I want to meet as many people as possible but unfortunately I can’t run the type of campaign I want: sitting up and driving 15 or 16 hours a day, knocking on doors, doing long days and long nights. If I couldn’t do that, I decided I wouldn’t run.”
Mr Crowley strongly defended his decision to run in 2014 even though he had been hospitalised repeatedly in 2012 and 2013. He rejected any suggestions that he had misled the electorate or been irresponsible in allowing his name go forward in 2014 after these earlier illnesses.
“When I ran in 2014, I didn’t have a health problem, everything was cured. I had 30 years prior to that where I had not been in hospital save for a car accident in 1990 so I didn’t mislead people. People were aware I had been in hospital in 2012 and 2013 when I was standing in 2014.
“I explained to them why I was missing in 2012/2013 but I never said this wasn’t going to be a problem again even though when I went into hospital in June 2014, I was under the impression I would have the surgery and recover in two months and I always thought the next surgery would be the solution.”
Mr Crowley denied the Ireland South voters were disenfranchised by his non-attendance in the current parliament. However he admitted “they deserved better” but he said there was nothing he could do about it given his poor health. He said he was more disappointed than anyone about his non-attendance.
He defended his decision to continue drawing his monthly salary of €8,484.50, saying that he had abided by all European Parliament rules, submitting monthly sick certs as well as regular reports from his medical consultants to the parliament’s medical services department.
Mr Crowley said that he was deeply disappointed to be expelled from the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party in 2014 over his decision to leave the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group and join the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group.
He insisted he bore no grudge against Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin over the move. He confirmed he had not spoken to Mr Martin since July 2014 and had not contacted him to inform him of his decision to step down, even though he remains a Fianna Fáil member.
While he would not be drawn on whom he might support to succeed him in Europe, he pledged he would give his support to whomever the party selected to contest the election.