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Wednesday 21 November 2018

Cox is favourite to replace McCreevy in EU Commission

SAM SMYTH

The former President of the European Parliament Pat Cox has emerged as the new favourite to replace Charlie McCreevy as EU Commissioner this autumn.

Mr Cox is probably the only Irish figure that could command an influential portfolio ­ and appointing him would avoid a by-election that the government couldn't win.

Brussels is buzzing with rumours that the Liberal group Fianna Fail MEPs joined in the European Parliament last month are pressing the government to appoint Cox.

"After losing the Lisbon referendum, the standing of the Irish is so low they could expect the multi-lingual portfolio currently held by Romania," said an informed source in Brussels.

But as a former president of the Liberal group and a former president of the EU Parliament, Pat Cox would almost be guaranteed a senior post in the Commission, according to the source.

The former PD TD and independent MEP has also been very helpful behind the scenes through the years and has a good working relationship with the current government.

And while both Mary Harney and Noel Dempsey have been speculated on as contenders, the numbers in the Dail rule out a by-election that the Government couldn't win.

Even before the results of the opinion polls and June 5 elections are digested, it is now accepted that no member of the Cabinet will go to Brussels in the autumn.

By-election

"There is no such thing as a safe seat," said a Fianna Fail minister yesterday. "We could not be sure of winning a by-election in any constituency, so I expect we will do a 'David Byrne' and send someone outside of domestic politics."

David Byrne was the Attorney General in the 1997 FF-PD government in 1997 who Bertie Ahern appointed EU Commissioner before Charlie McCreevy.

And the only figure outside of elected politicians currently being considered, according to informed sources, is Pat Cox .

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