MEP Flanagan facing complaint for branding female worker a 'puppy'
Irish MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan is facing a formal complaint after branding a female worker a "puppy" during a private meeting in Brussels last week.
The Irish Independent can reveal that Mr Flanagan used the term to describe the parliamentary assistant of Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness.
Ms McGuinness is now preparing to make a formal complaint against Mr Flanagan - who took to his Twitter page last night to attack Fine Gael and his parliament colleague.
The incident took place at an event in the European Parliament Buildings in Brussels on Wednesday.
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 said 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 20s, and labelled her a "puppy".
This newspaper has confirmed Ms McGuinness is set to make a formal complaint to the parliament's authorities over the treatment of her assistant.
Sources say the woman in question was left deeply upset.
Mr Flanagan did not respond to a series of questions sent by the Irish Independent yesterday.
He instead took to Twitter, confirming that he described the assistant as a "puppy".
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."
It's understood another female worker who witnessed the incident has said she is prepared to make a statement on behalf of Ms McGuinness's assistant.
The event was chaired by Sinn Féin MEP for Ireland South Liadh Ní Riada.
Ms Ní Riada said she did not witness the incident as she focussed on chairing the event.
"It is up to Luke 'Ming' Flanagan to deal with this but certainly this kind of behaviour shouldn't be tolerated," Ms Ní Riada said last night.
"For me though, the focus should be on the people who came over to tell their story. They have gone through a far more harrowing experience."