Opinion: Brexit's impact on Ireland's MEP numbers merits closer scrutiny
Downing on politics
Published 24/11/2016 | 06:30
Brexit could give Ireland one extra MEP, bringing the country's European Parliament membership to 12. Now, that's not the most reach-out-and-grab-you introduction to encourage the reader.
But stay with me, because it is a significant issue for Irish farming, food production and sales. The reality is that the European Parliament has never been unkind to Ireland, as it has consistently advocated proper funding for regional development and schemes like Leader, not to mention the operation of the CAP itself.
From the outset, Ireland's MEPs have advocated a case for rural Ireland and been an important listening post for the implications of EU policies on rural life. In the past we had IFA leaders TJ Maher, Paddy Lane and Alan Gillis, representing various parties, but articulating a strong rural message.
More recently, that tradition is being upheld by Máiréad McGuinness, tipped as a potential president of the parliament, and Marian Harkin, among others.
The parliament has also been gathering more power and influence over the past 25 years, and now has the ability to shape and veto EU laws.
For too long it was the poor relation in the apparatus. But these days the European Parliament cannot be ignored.
The fallout from Brexit is that Britain will lose its 73 MEPs at the next elections in May 2019. That is just after Britain should have concluded its EU divorce proceedings in April 2019.
But it very probably would make more sense to abolish the UK's parliament allocation - rather than re-allocate them across the other 27 member states.