Friday 20 September 2019

Ireland set to gain two extra MEP seats due to Brexit

Opposed: Mairead McGuinness
Opposed: Mairead McGuinness

Shona Murray

Ireland is set to gain two extra seats in the European Parliament because of Brexit.

Although the European Parliament will reduce to 705 seats from the current 751 when Britain leaves, some of the UK's 73 seats will be distributed.

Ireland will take two seats due to the redistribution of 27 of Britain's seats.

The European Parliament's Constitutional Committee (AFCO) is voting on the proposals today but members say it is due to pass at least through the parliament.

After that it must go to the member states for final approval.

If approved it will mean Ireland will have 13 MEPs in total.

"The EU is getting smaller, so parliament should also get smaller," said Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness, who is a member of the AFCO committee.

However, if Brexit is somehow reversed Ireland won't see any increase in its representation in Brussels.

A paragraph stating that the proposals will apply only if 'Brexit goes ahead' will also be inserted in to the final text.

"A caveat will be added saying these recommendation are only relevant if 'Brexit goes through'," a source within the group told the Irish Independent.

"We will introduce a paragraph that says 'if the UK is still a member' the plan is null and void," they said.

The next European Parliament elections will take place in May 2019, after which time the UK says it will no longer be an EU member.

However, the work of redrawing constituency boundaries for the countries gaining seats through the UK's departure will have to be completed much sooner than that.

The timeline for this is in May of this year.

The committee is also voting today on an amendment underpinning the right to EU citizenship for the people of Northern Ireland after Brexit.

The vote was called by Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson.

It states: "Whereas, under the Good Friday Agreement, the people of Northern Ireland have an inherent right to hold British citizenship, Irish citizenship , or both, and by virtue of the right to Irish citizenship, to citizenship of the union as well."

Irish Independent

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