Health issues have forced me to quit, says tearful Crowley
Veteran MEP Brian Crowley fought back tears yesterday as he revealed his long-standing medical issues are forcing him to quit.
The Ireland South MEP confirmed he will be stepping down after 25 years' service and will not contest next May's Euro elections.
Mr Crowley (54), who told the Irish Independent in 2013 that he asked in vain for doctors to amputate his legs, has been unable to attend a single session of the current European Parliament.
He has used a wheelchair since 1980, when a freak fall left him paralysed.
Since 2014, he has undergone 30 surgeries, mostly for pressure sores on his legs.
The Cork politician's decision not to contest the 2011 Presidential election led to a clash with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.
In 2014, he was suspended from Fianna Fáil after he joined the European Conservatives and Reformists group in the European Parliament. Fianna Fáil said the principles of the ECR were incompatible with the party.
Mr Crowley has not met Mr Martin since 2014.
But he said of the party leader: "We are not enemies - we are not at loggerheads with each other. I hold no grudge."
Mr Martin, along with Irish MEPs, last night paid tribute to Mr Crowley's public service.
Mr Crowley, who topped the poll in all five European Parliament elections he contested since 1994 was devastated his health left him unable to fulfil his lifelong ambition of contesting a Presidential election.
"Is this what I wanted? No, it is not," he said. "I wanted to be out in Brussels and Strasbourg but I was not able to. My legs, my hips and my thighs are like a relief map of Ireland from before the Ice Age.
"Am I hurt at how things worked out? Yes I am. It is incredibly frustrating. I wanted to do my best for my constituents and the people who voted for me.
"Do you think this does not hurt me? The fact that I cannot do what I was doing all along? The job I loved? Of course I wanted to do better for people.
"I have never kept my health issues a secret. It breaks my heart to leave a job that I have loved since I was first elected.
"But I have been in hospital for a long period of time - over three-and-a-half years with a number of surgeries.
"I will continue in my term of office up until May but I won't be putting myself forward as a candidate for election or selection for May."
The MEP rejected criticisms that he should have retired before now.
"Over the period of time I was in hospital, the work has not stopped. I was working from hospital and via my staff," he said.
"I was working through my contacts within the EU Commission and EU Parliament that I have built up for almost 30 years."
"Yes, people did deserve better. I tried to do my very best. But I couldn't physically do it and it is not what I wanted."
Mr Crowley's voice wavered as he said he hoped that planned surgery this year would finally solve his problems.
"I did not want to be in a hospital bed. I loved my job. I loved the excitement of what I was doing every single day in Brussels in Strasbourg because I was defending Ireland's interests."