A Cork based MEP has moved to explain his reasons for not voting on a resolution to step up search and rescue for refugees in the Mediterranean.
The European Parliament resolution calling on the EU Member States “to step up their efforts in support of search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean,” was rejected by just two votes in Europe this week.
All four of Fine Gael’s MEPs – Mairead McGuinness, Maria Walsh, Frances Fitzgerald and Sean Kelly – voted against the resolution.
Six other Irish MEPs, including two from the Green Party, two from Sinn Fein and two Independents, voted in favour of it.
Meanwhile, no votes were recorded for former Cork TD and current Ireland South MEP Billy Kelleher (FF), as well as Independent Clare Daly and Naomi Long of the Alliance Party.
Fine Gael MEPs have come in for a wave of criticism for their stance on the issue as have those for whom no vote was recorded.
Taking to Twitter to defend his lack of a vote on the resolution, Mr Kelleher explained that his travel arrangements meant he was unable to partake.
He said that he would have voted in favour of the resolution to step up search and rescue activity in the Mediterranean.
Mr Kelleher said that on the day in question, he voted on more than 140 amendments and resolutions.
He said that many of these votes included those in favour of European United Left/Nordic Green Left amendments as he was showing support for their position on refugees and migrants.
“However, voting was slow to start and as such I had to leave at 12.45pm in order to compete my 2.5 hour bus journey to Frankfurt in order to catch my flight back to Dublin and then onto Cork,” he explained further.
“I 100% would have voted in favour of this resolution.
“I hope that the EU Council and Commission can implement progressive proposals to protect migrants & asylum seekers and save lives,” he added.
“This is an issue I care about having used my maiden European Parliament speech to talk about the crisis in the Med.”