Two Irish MEPs have worst voting record in Parliament

Independents Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan and Brian Crowley monitored by watchdog

Luke “Ming” Flanagan:  had a voting rate of 16 per cent.  Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Luke “Ming” Flanagan: had a voting rate of 16 per cent. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 

Independent MEPs Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan and Brian Crowley have the worst voting record among Irish MEPs at the European Parliament, new figures show.

Data from VoteWatch Europe shows Mr Crowley participated in none of the votes held during the plenary sessions of the European Parliament since the European elections in May, while Mr Flanagan had a voting rate of 16 per cent.

Fine Gael’s Seán Kelly was the best performer, with a 100 per cent voting record, with Dublin MEP Brian Hayes and Independent MEP Nessa Childers close behind at 99 per cent.

Overall, Ireland is ranked bottom of the list of EU countries in terms of MEPs’ participation in plenary votes since the new parliament took office on July 1st, with an average voting participation rate of 73 per cent. Austria scored highest with 96 per cent, followed closely by Croatia, Hungary and the Netherlands.

Attendance

A spokesman for Mr Crowley said the Cork MEP has been confined to hospital in Cork for the past few months and has been unable to travel to Brussels or Strasbourg.

Mr Flanagan did not return calls to The Irish Times over the weekend.

Speaking on Newstalk radio on Monday he said: “Since I got elected to the European Parliament, my wife hasn’t been that well. We have a newborn baby girl and it has restricted me in my ability to get out to either Strasbourg or Brussels.

“In the meantime, I have been doing my damnedest from Ireland to deal with all the issues via email and telephone etc. Ultimately for me, my family comes first. I think that’s the way society should be structured anyway.”

MEPs are entitled to a gross salary of approximately €95,000 plus expenses, which includes a €304 flat rate allowance per day while on official business.

Sinn Féin’s three MEPs, Lynn Boylan, Matt Carthy and Liadh Ní Riada, had a voting rate of 83 per cent, while Independent MEP Marian Harkin had a voting participation rate of 73 per cent.

Mairead McGuinness, who was elected as one of 14 European Parliament vice-presidents earlier this year, had an 82 per cent voting record, the same as her party colleague Deirdre Clune.

The figures from VoteWatch Europe relate to the votes taken at the parliament’s plenary session which meets in Strasbourg one week every month.

Activity

This week’s session is the fifth since the new European Parliament took office on July 1st. Parliamentary sources stressed that the research does not give an insight into MEPs’ activities in Brussels, where they participate in committee meetings, “mini-plenary” sessions and constituency-related activities.

Ireland was one of several member states this year who saw a reduction in MEPs due to the accession of Croatia to the EU, with the number of Irish MEPs reduced from 12 to 11.

The constituency boundaries were also redrawn with the number of constituencies falling from four to three – Dublin, Midlands North West and Ireland South. A total of 751 MEPs from the 28 member states were elected to the parliament in May for a five-year term.