Wednesday 26 July 2017

FF split over new Brussels partners

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

FIANNA Fail's European election candidates were at loggerheads yesterday over the party's move to join a new political grouping in Brussels.

Euro candidate Ned O'Keeffe yesterday said he was "shocked" to see fellow party MEP Brian Crowley still expressing opposition to the party's move to join the liberal group in the European Parliament.

Fianna Fail is a member of the obscure Union for the Europe of Nations, where Mr Crowley is a president.

But Taoiseach Brian Cowen went over his head to negotiate FF's entry into the vastly more influential, European Liberal Democrat party (ELDR) -- the third largest political group in Europe.

Mr O'Keeffe has joined Mr Crowley on the Fianna Fail ticket in Ireland South. Mr O'Keeffe says Fianna Fail's decision to join the liberals is an important move and dismissed Mr Crowley's stance.

"I'm delighted Fianna Fail is joining that group. We will be removed from any taints from that UEN group," he said.

Mr Crowley has expressed concerns about Fianna Fail's stance on issues, such as abortion, being compromised by joining the liberals.

But Mr Cowen has firmly dismissed this suggestion and says Fianna Fail will retain its policy position in these moral areas.

Mr Crowley, the sitting Munster MEP, said he had no comment about Mr O'Keeffe's views.

"No. I always knew Ned was a great liberal," he joked.

Fianna Fail's application to join the liberal group will be formally approved by the ELDR on Thursday. But the party won't be joining the ELDR in the European Parliament until after the European elections.

Mr Crowley s refused to say if he was now in favour of joining the liberals.

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