The Fianna Fáil substitute for Mr Crowley for the parliament has written a critical letter to the sick MEP calling on him to quit to “maintain the seat” and “regain the confidence of the electorate”.
Kieran Hartley’s letter was sent to Mr Crowley last week and is the latest call for Ireland’s longest-serving MEP to step aside.
Mr Crowley’s spokesman has reiterated that the Ireland South MEP is still unwell and taking advice from his doctor. However, the spokesman also said Mr Crowley will host a press conference soon, at which the Bandon native will outline his position.
The spokesman refused to clarify whether the five-time poll topper will seek to retain his seat or not at next May’s European elections. In 2014, he got the highest vote in the European elections, while Mr Hartley, his running mate in the constituency, got almost 30,000 votes and went on to be named as a substitute for the seat. Mr Crowley, though, has left the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.
In the letter to the MEP last week, Mr Hartley said Mr Crowley’s decision to also leave ALDE, the European group of which Fianna Fáil is a part, and join the ECR group, is not benefiting Ireland.
The last four years have provided ample time and space to deal honourably with this neglect, but it has been clearly and consistently avoided at every turn,” said Mr Hartley. “It is way past time to enact the standard EU substitute solution and for you to stand aside.
“This will allow both Ireland and Fianna Fail to maintain the seat, to represent our party and constituents in Europe and to distance ourselves from the political cul-de-sac that is the failing Tory ECR group. It will also allow us to re-establish our partnership with the ALDE group, and to regain the confidence and support of the electorate.”
A Fianna Fáil spokesman last night said: “Although currently suffering from ill health, we understand that Mr Crowley’s office continues to provide a full range of services and supports to his constituency. We wish him a speedy recovery.”
Fianna Fáil is keen to retain the seat for the party at next May’s elections. A number of TDs have been linked with running, including Cork North Central’s Billy Kelleher and Clare’s Timmy Dooley. The party is holding off on deciding until boundary changes — with two extra seats from Brexit — are agreed in the autumn. Nonetheless, Mr Hartley believes Mr Crowley should hand over the seat now if he does not intend to return to the European Parliament.
“I hope you understand that your prolonged and continuing absence from the European Parliament has profound consequences in both how the EU views Ireland and how Irish citizens view the manner in which we not only interact with the EU but in how we respect and uphold its vision,” he wrote. “Regrettably our combined national interests and aspirations are not only not being served, but your absenteeism actively damages us all, now more than ever.”
Mr Crowley’s spokesman declined to comment on the MEP’s receipt of the letter.