The Irish in Strasbourg

EU-ParliamentIts been a busy two days so far during this plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Following the re-election of Martin Schulz (DE, S&D) as President of the European Parliament the focus turned to the election of the 14 Vice Presidents of the Parliament.

The Vice Presidents make up the Bureau of the Parliament, along with the President and Quaestors of the Parliament. They also chair sessions of the Parliament when the President is not present.

Of the 14 Elected Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness (EPP, FG) was elected on the first count along with five of her colleagues from the European People’s Party. McGuinness actually had the 2nd highest number of votes with 441 votes only being beaten by her Italian EPP Colleague Antonia Tajani (452 votes).

Tomorrow the focus turns to the committees where much of the work of MEPs take place and much horse trading and bartering goes on. The size of the committees where set yesterday for the 20 committees and Irish MEPs will sit on 9 of those. The committee with the highest number of Irish MEPs is of course agriculture with three MEPs on it followed by Environment committee on which two Irish MEPs will sit.

  • Budgets (BUDG): Liadh Ni Riada (GUE/NGL, SF)
  • Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON): Brian Hayes (EPP, FG)
  • Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL): Marian Harkin (ALDE, IND)
  • Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI): Lynn Boylan (GUE/NGL, SF), Nessa Childers (S&D, IND)
  • Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE): Sean Kelly (EPP, FG)
  • Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO): Brian Crowley (ECR, IND/FF)
  • Transport and Tourism (TRAN): Deirdre Clune (EPP, FG)
  • Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI): Mairead McGuinness (EPP, FG), Matt Carthy (GUE/NGL, SF), Luke “Ming” Flanagan (GUE/NGL, IND)
  • Fisheries (PECH): Liadh Ni Riada (GUE/NGL, SF).

No Irish MEPs sit on Foreign Affairs, Development, International Trade, Budgetary Control, Regional Development, Culture and Education, Legal Affairs, Civil Liberties Justice and Home Affairs, Constitutional Affairs, Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, or Petitions. How ever they may be appointed as supplementary members of those committees at a later point.

For reference here is the list of which Committees Irish MEPs were members of in the last parliament.

Crowley set to join ECR

European_Conservatives_and_Reformists_logoIreland South MEP Brian Crowley, Fianna Fails sole MEP, is set to announce that he will be leaving the liberal ALDE Group in the European Parliament and instead will join the European Conservatives and Reformists according to Press Reports today.

If this does happen it will put in doubt Fianna Fails membership of the pan-European ALDE Party to which the party leader, Michael Martin is firmly in favour of.

Crowley’s decision to join ECR will mean that Irish MEPs are now spread across 5 European Parliament Groups.

  • EPP: 4 MEPs (Fine Gael)
  • GUE/NGL: 4 MEPs (3 Sinn Fein, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan)
  • ALDE: 1 MEP (Marian Harkin)
  • ECR: 1 MEP (Brian Crowley)
  • S&D: 1 MEP (Nessa Childers)

With Crowley joining the ECR they are now represented in 15 countries. The UK (Conservatives) and Poland (Law and Justice) make up the largest delegations with 20 and 19 respectively and the rest of the group made of MEPs from Belgium (4), Bulgaria (1), Czech Republic (2), Denmark (4), Germany (8), Greece (1), Croatia (1), Latvia (1), Lithuania (1), Netherlands (2), Slovakia (2) and Finland (2).

Crowleys transfer also solidifies ECR as the 3rd largest group in the parliament with 69 seats and pushing ALDE back to 66.

It will be interesting to see now what happens to Fianna Fails membership of the ALDE Party and how often Crowley will be voting with his colleagues.

 

The New European Parliament

eu flagsFollowing last month’s European Elections the European Parliament will meet on July 1st to constitute itself and elect its new President. Most commentators expect that the two largest groups, the European People’s Party and the Socialist and Democrats, will continue their alliance and split the presidency again between them.

So how did the groups fair? 

The European Parliament now consists of 751 MEPs down 15 from the 766 MEPs in the last parliament. There has been some changes of Group compositions with newly elected parties and independents joining groups and some parties changing groups. The Groups now stand as follows:

  • EPP: 221 (-53)
  • S&D: 191 (-4)
  • ECR: 63 (+7)
  • ALDE: 59 (-26)
  • Greens/EFA: 54 (-4)
  • GUE/NGL: 52 (+17)
  • EFD: 32 (-1)
  • NI: 79

In Ireland Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein have remained with their respective groups (EPP, S&D & GUE/NGL) and Independent Marian Harkin has also remained with ALDE.

Independent Nessa Childers has been readmitted to the S&D Group ensuring they are represented in every member state after Labour’s wipe-out at the elections. Independent Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagen has joined Sinn Fein in the GUE/NGL group. The Socialist Party failed to retain it’s MEP.

That means the groups stand as follows in the Irish Delegation:

  • EPP: 4 (-)
  • S&D: 1 (-2)
  • ALDE: 2 (-2)
  • GUE/NGL: 4 (+4)

Commission President – Parliament v European Council

After electing the President and 14 Vice Presidents of the Parliament the next task will be voting for the European Commission President. While the EPP and S&D leadership are backing Jean Claude-Juncker they dont have complete control of their groups. With UK Labour opposing Junker’s candidacy, neither party can afford to lose support on this vote.

  • Needed for a Majority: 376
  • EPP + S&D: 412
  • EPP + S&D -UKLab: 392

16 votes would be quite close. But of course Junker will have to emerge as the European Council Nominee first, a battle in itself, before any such vote will take place in the European Parliament.

Come Out and Vote!

to_vote_logo_largeTomorrow the Local and European Elections take place in Ireland. Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm.

These elections will be the last Elections held before the planned referendum on Marriage next year. It is therefore very important that candidates who support the LGBT Community in Ireland are supported at the polls tomorrow.

To help find out who is supporting the community. ILGA Europe have asked candidates to sign the Come Out 2014 Pledge. Signatures were gathered from across Europe with 1,156 candidates taking the pledge. Also check out the Youtube Video

In Ireland 19 out of the 41 candidates have signed it. All 6 Fine Gael candidates have signed the pledge as have the 3 Labour and Green Party Candidates.

Surprisingly Lynn Boylan is the only Sinn Fein signatory on pledge and Mary Fitzpatrick is the only Fianna Fail signatory. These are both Dublin Candidates and it is also important to not that Dublin has the highest number of candidates who have signed it with 8, followed by South with 6 and in Midlands North West only 5 candidates have signed it.

Dublin

  • Lynn Boylan (SF)
  • Nessa Childers (Ind)
  • Emer Costello (Lab)
  • Mary Fitzpatrick (FF)
  • Brian Hayes (FG)
  • Paul Murphy (Socialist)
  • Eamonn Ryan (Green)
  • Brid Smith (PBPA)

Midlands North West

  • Mark Deary (Greens)
  • Marian Harkin (Ind)
  • Lorraine Higgins (Lab)
  • Jim Higgins (FG)
  • Mairead McGuinness (FG)

South

  • Deirdre Clune (FG)
  • Simon Harris (FG)
  • Sean Kelly (FG)
  • Diarmuid O’Flynn (Ind)
  • Phil Prendergast (Lab)
  • Grace O’Sulliavan (Green)

In the local Elections no such pledge exists, but a number of candidates up and down the country have shown their worth on LGBT issues. Whether by marching in Gay Pride Parades, being the Grand Marshall on some occasions. Supporting the LGBT groups within their parties and their communities. Sometimes it just supporting the events and individuals. Either way do take this into account when you vote tomorrow.

Ensure you vote goes to someone who will support you, who ever you are!

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Childers Resigns from the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Nessa Childers the Labour MEP for Ireland East has resigned from the Parliamentary Labour Party citing the partys actions in Government as her reasons. She has decided to remain a member of the Labour Party.

I assume she is remaining a member of the party in order to stay attached to the S&D grouping of the European Parliament. If she left the Labour Party completely she would have to move to the Non-Inscrits seats and lose the benefits of being a group member.

I havent seen any announcment about whether she will run or not in the European Parliamentary Elections in 2014. If she runs as an independent she will prevent Labour from having any chance (which is slim as it is) from retaining the seat.

This resignation also leaves Labour in the predicament of having two unelected MEPs left in the European Parliament. Emer Costello in Dublin and Phil Prendergast in South. With the recent opinion polls its going to be hard for Labour to retain their seats and this is a further blow to them.

List: Irish MEPs and their Committees

If your like me, you will want to know what committees in the European Parliament the Irish MEPs have been assigned to. I have gleaned this information off the europarl website and some of ye might find it interesting.

Committee on Development

  • Gay Mitchell (FG/EPP – Dublin)

Committee on International Trade

  • Joe Higgins (SOC/GUE-NGL – Dublin)

Committee on Employment and Social Affairs

  • Proinsias De Rossa (Lab/S&D – Dublin)
  • Marian Harkin (Ind/ALDE – North West)

Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

  • Nessa Childers (Lab/S&D – East)

Committee on Industry, Research and Energy:

  • Brian Crowley (FF/ALDE – South)

Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

  • Alan Kelly (Lab/S&D – South)

Committee on Transport and Tourism

  • Jim Higgins (FG/EPP – North West)

Committee on Regional Development

  • Sean Kelly (FG/EPP – South)

Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development

  • Mairead McGuinness (FG/EPP – East)
  • Liam Aylward (FF/ALDE – East)

Committee on Fisheries

  • Pat “The Cope” Gallagher (FF/ALDE – North West)

Committee on Petitions

  • Mairead McGuinness (FG/EPP – East)

A boring list, but usefull information.

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7 Irish MEP Candidates sign the ILGA Pledge

ILGA-Europe (International Lesbian and Gay Association – Europe) have a petition for MEP candidates on its website.

ILGA-Europe is calling upon candidates for the European Parliament elections 2009 to sign this pledge to promote equality and to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in their role as member of the European Parliament.

The 7 Irish MEP Candidates are:

  • Nessa Childers (Labour – Ireland East)
  • Pronsias De Rossa MEP (Labour – Ireland Dublin)
  • Mary Lou McDonald (Sinn Fein – Ireland Dublin)
  • Dan Boyle (Green – Ireland South)
  • Susan O’Keefe (Labour – Ireland North-West)
  • Alan Kelly (Labour – Ireland South)
  • Joe Higgins (Socialist Party – Ireland Dublin)

Fair play to them for signing it. Susan O’Keeffe’s comment was really touching:

NO MORE PLEDGES

I PLEDGE TO WORK TOWARDS THE DAY WHEN NO MORE PLEDGES LIKE THIS ONE WILL BE REQUIRED. WE ARE EQUAL AND THAT’S ALWAYS WORTH FIGHTING FOR.

(Caps aren’t mine)

She makes a good point.

See who signed in your country

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