'Ming' keeps it casual for first day in Europe
Published 03/07/2014 | 14:55
MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan didn't breach the European Parliament dress code by wearing a T-shirt and jeans - because there isn't any.
A spokeswoman told the Herald that no specific rules are in place requiring parliamentarians to don suits.
"If they want to wear jeans, they wear jeans. I don't think it's a big problem. Yesterday, we had a Scottish member who had a kilt. There is no requirement to wear a shirt and tie," she said.
T-shirts are also acceptable. "We have people from the Green group wearing T-shirts always," the spokeswoman added.
The European Parliament's website notes: "There is no particular dress code. Please make sure, however, that whatever you wear is neat and clean.
"Men would be well advised to bring at least one suit for any missions to Strasbourg."
Mr Flanagan's Ballyfin Athletic Club T-shirt had the words Deadman's Dash emblazoned on the front, a reference to a charity run.
The Co Laois club noted on its Facebook page that the MEP was "causing a bit of a stir in the Euro Parliament" in Strasbourg with the T-shirt.
Mr Flanagan, who was attending his first sitting of the parliament, wrote on Twitter that his top was "getting lots of compliments", adding: "Chair does not appear to be upset. Probably more important things to do."
It isn't the first time the politician's dress sense has been the subject of comment. In 2011, Mr Flanagan, Mick Wallace and Richard Boyd Barrett were at risk of being ejected from the Dail for their casual clothes.
A proposal was tabled to force TDs to dress smartly, but the plans were subsequently dropped.
The changes would have required male deputies to wear "a tailored jacket and trousers and a collared shirt".
But there were fears the sight of politicians being thrown out of the Dail would have been an unwelcome distraction.
The proposals had been agreed by the Committee on Procedures and Privileges, but were not implemented at the time by the Coalition Government.
Mr Flanagan commented: "All I can say is thank God they've dropped it because I'm sick and tired of listening to it, with all the stuff that's going on. It's just a relief that we're not going to have to waste time in the Dail fighting this.
"It wouldn't have been acceptable if they tried to push it through. At the same time, I'm sure the public, the last thing they want to be listening to is TDs arguing over what to wear."
However, the issue was back up on the agenda the following year, shortly after Mr Flanagan turned up in the Dail wearing a bright orange Sesame Street T-shirt featuring the character Oscar the Grouch.
When Ireland rejected the Lisbon Treaty in 2008, United Kingdom Independence Party MEPs attended the European Parliament in green shirts, one of them complete with a leprechaun hat.
Mr Flanagan was elected to the Dail in 2011 and in May won a seat in Europe, representing Midlands/North West.