Sinn Féin’s Midlands North West candidate, Matt Carthy, has said that many people will question the competence of sitting MEPs, including Pat the Cope Gallagher and Jim Higgins, after claims of voting buttons not functioning and being mistakenly pressed.
Carthy was speaking after Gallagher and Higgins attempted to explain why they had voted against the interests of the Irish people on Sinn Féin amendments calling for the release of the letter from Jean Claude Trichet to the Irish Government.
“Understandably questions are now being asked about the competency of the sitting MEPs for the Midlands North West after claims of voting buttons not working and mistaken votes on key issues of interest to the Irish people. Interestingly the ‘correction’ to votes was not made within the usual time frame. One thing is for sure this debacle will not help Irish MEPs to be taken seriously by their European counterparts.
“Sinn Féin won the support of the EU Parliament for an amendment calling for the release of the 2010 letter from Jean Claude Trichet to the then Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan.
“This is an issue that my party colleagues Pearse Doherty in the Dáil and Martina Anderson in Europe have been working tirelessly on.
“The vote passed by 325 votes to 276.
“The amendment simply added: ‘calls on the ECB to publish the letter of 19 November 2010 from Jean-Claude Trichet to the then Irish Finance Minister, as requested by the European Ombudsman.’
“In the vote Emer Costello and Jim Higgins voted No and Pat the Cope Gallagher didn’t vote.
“All three have since corrected their vote. While MEPs vote on hundreds of issues and mistakes are made, the parliament allows for a MEP to correct their vote before 6:30pm on the day of that vote. This ‘correction’ of the vote will be then officially noted in the minutes.
“By Friday morning (the day after the vote) none of the three MEPs had corrected their vote so Sinn Féin drew attention to the voting record. All three have now changed their vote which will be noted in the annex of the minutes.
“In terms of the official vote, the original votes of two ‘no’s’ and a non-vote stand, 606 MEPs voted, five corrected their vote. Three of these were Irish and at least two were claiming this was because of a technical issue. The odds of such a technical glitch affecting Irish MEPs in such a disproportionate way is astronomical.
“If the votes of three MEPs were not working that raises some serious concerns about the validity of all votes the European Parliament takes.”