Saturday 24 August 2019

EU complaints body contacted over MEP Flanagan’s ‘puppy’ remark

MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan. Photo: Tom Burke
MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan. Photo: Tom Burke

Niall O’Connor

THE VICE chairperson of the European Parliament has written to the body tasked with dealing with complaints of harassment after MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan branded a young female worker a “puppy”.

Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness issued a statement this evening following remarks made directly about her personal assistant by Mr Flanagan.

She confirmed that she has made contact with the body set up to deal with complaints of harassment.

The body is known as the ‘Advisory Committee dealing with Harassment Complaints between Accredited Parliamentary Assistants and Members of the European Parliament and its Prevention at the Workplace’.

“I have asked for guidance from the Advisory Committee on this matter,” Ms McGuinness said.

“I have not sought, either directly or indirectly, an apology from the MEP involved, Mr. Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, nor do I intend to. I will be making no further comment,” she added.

Independent.ie revealed yesterday that the woman was labelled the term ‘puppy’ while representing Ms McGuinness at a meeting in the EU parliament in Brussels last week.

The event, which was attended by about 20 people including a number of MEPs and officials, was organised on behalf of VOCADS - a group that represents survivors of sexual abuse.

Sources say Mr Flanagan strongly criticised the lack of presence from the Fine Gael delegation.

He then pointed at Ms McGuinness’s personal assistant, who is in her twenties, and labelled her a “puppy”.

Mr Flanagan  did not respond to a series of questions sent by the Irish Independent this week.

He instead took to twitter, confirming that he described the assistant as a “puppy” but insisted it was merely a term of phrase.

The Midlands-North-West MEP tweeted: “So instead of any of the four turning up they sent an assistant. I commented 'You don’t send a puppy to win the greyhound derby' @MaireadMcGMEP now looking for an apology for calling her assistant a puppy. In the meantime VOCADS continue to be treated like dirt. #priorities.”

VOCADS is a group that represents survivors of sexual abuse.

The Midlands-North-West MEP refused to apologise for the use of the term yesterday. He also attacked the personal assistant in question, telling presenter Keith Finnegan that the woman “doesn’t understand what an idiom is.”

He added: “Why are we focussing on an idiom when these people have been snubbed and insulted.”

And he attacked the Fine Gael delegation for not turning up.

“People who are looking for justice and was there anyone there (from Fine Gael) to meet them - no there wasn’t.”

Online Editors

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