Brian Crowley’s surplus gave Gerard Collins the few thousand extra votes he needed to be elected on the second count in 1999 and he hopes Pat Cox’s withdrawal should help him past the post this year.
In parliament he leads the six Fianna Fáil MEPs and is deputy head of the tiny UEN group.
As a result he has addressed the house at every plenary session, but the UEN affords little opportunity to Fianna Fáil to be an influence in the parliament.
He is well liked with his easy manner. As a member of the EP committee dealing with transport issues, he took an interest in air passenger rights and safety at airports.
He was also involved in the legislation improving compensation to air passengers denied or delayed boarding.
The Limerick man is chair of the EP delegation to South Africa and is a regular visitor to the country where the EU spends €130m a year on development and AIDS programmes.
The Irish presidency raised his profile in the house and he was involved in working with the Irish Government in the run-up to, and during, the six- month presidency.
One of the younger MEPs in the parliament at 40, he won the largest number of first preference votes in the country in the 1999 election with a quota and two thirds.
His profile in the parliament is low and is not helped by Fianna Fáil’s membership of one of the least important political groups and friction between party colleagues.
He has concentrated largely on looking after his constituency and on EU issues he tends to be conservative and at times he verges on the eurosceptic.
He has been a member of the often-controversial Legal Affairs Committee in the parliament frequently blamed for holding up reports and decisions.
He oversaw a report on the simplification of paying bank transactions across the union.
He was also a number of the Social Affairs committee where he was involved in the EU Health and Safety legislation on parental leave and the EU Health card.
The highlight of his second five-year term was in helping to secure e5 million in EU funding for the Special Olympics in Ireland last year.