'I always thought that the next surgery would work. Unfortunately it didn't'

'I always thought that the next surgery would work. Unfortunately it didn't'
Brian Crowley who announced is retirement from public life at a press conference at the Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

Complications arising from an accident MEP Brian Crowley suffered in 1980 were responsible for keeping him in a hospital bed for the last three years.

As a teenager he fell off a roof and was paralysed from the hips down.

At a press conference yesterday announcing his decision not to seek re-election to the European Parliament, he spoke publicly for the first time of how illness had dogged him.

"As a result (of the accident) I had problems with muscle tone, circulation and bone density. One of the risks is that the skin becomes more fragile. If the skin breaks down it's harder to cure."

The Ireland South MEP said that he had to endure more than 30 surgical procedures under general anaesthetic, which included cleaning out wounds, skin grafts and muscle replacement.

He said he often hoped after each procedure that he'd be able to get out of hospital.

I went into hospital under the impression I would recover in a month or two. I always thought that the next surgery would work. Unfortunately it didn't.

"I still have one single open wound which is helped by dressings. My health is very good except for that," he said.

However, Mr Crowley said he simply wasn't up to campaigning for a European seat any more, as on such campaigns he often put in 16-hour days and would drive himself everywhere.

He said he had wanted to attend EU meetings and it "hurt" him that he couldn't.

"People elected me to be their representative and I tried to do my best for them. I've been able to deal with constituents' problems, arrange delegation visits to Europe. I was also putting down amendments to reports," he added.

Prior to being hospitalised, he had one of the best attendance records in Brussels and Strasbourg.

He maintained he was entitled to get a full salary from the EU, as he continued to work from his hospital bed.

I abided by the rules. Every month the EU was sent a sick note. My consultants also gave regular reports to the (EU) Parliament's medical services.

“It breaks my heart to leave a job I absolutely love. 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 during his time in hospital he received hundreds of get well cards, mass cards and calls from concerned constituents, whom he wanted to thank.

“Many people who suffer long-term illness have to work remotely using modern technology and you can now do it very successfully,” he said.

Mr Crowley said he was disappointed at being expelled from the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party because he left the EU grouping it was allied to as that grouping wasn't prepared to renew contracts for some of its Irish office staff.

“I was disappointed at being expelled from my party without being given an opportunity to explain why I had to leave the ALDE Group, as I was in hospital at the time. Moving to a new EU Group (ERC) wasn’t easy for me but I was able to secure new employment contracts for the Irish workers involved. I don’t regret putting people before party, whatever the consequences," he said.

However, he said he continues to work with Fianna Fáil grassroots members and FF parliamentary party members. "My style was always to get on with things, get on with people. I am still a proud member of the Fianna Fáil party,” he said.

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