Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has criticised the decision by a number of newspapers to carry an advertisement detailing the activities of fellow MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan.
I was surprised and disappointed to see the deeply cynical advertisement in your newspaper (and several others) commissioned by Luke Flanagan MEP, which sought to manufacture statistics and distort the facts about his activity in Europe at the expense of others, particularly myself.
It was a nasty and lousy act on his part.
I am disappointed because I have often assisted Luke, including by supporting his application to be permitted to join the GUE/NGL group in the European Parliament and often offered his office support and guidance when requested at numerous times over the past five years.
For him then to use disingenuous and misleading information pertaining to one aspect of a MEPs workload is not only deceptive, it is personally hurtful to me.
I am more than happy to stand over my record of work in the European Parliament and across the Midlands North West constituency.
While Luke claims to cite figures from one committee that he has clearly spent a lot of time in, I have been a member of five committees.
Even on the Agriculture Committee that he mentions, I have submitted more amendments, got more amendments passed and have had my name on more reports than Luke.
I have supported family farms at all turns and advocated for a fairer distribution of CAP payments. I will stand over my record in AGRI, Luke can stand over his, but he has no right to distort my record to compensate for his failings.
Luke’s focus on one aspect of a MEPs workload - attendance at one committee – appears to be a pathetic attempt to divert attention from all the other aspects. Again he can defend his own record, he cannot attack mine!
Unlike other MEPs, we in Sinn Féin see it as our job to be Ireland’s representatives in Europe, not to simply tell Irish people what Europe is doing - good or bad - as others do.
Over the past five years I have hosted numerous public consultation events across this constituency and have engaged in countless events in this county both with individuals and organisations.
My priority has always been to fight for the interests of Irish families, communities and our country. I have never engaged in petty political, and certainly not personal, attacks on constituency rivals for the sake of it.
Even when Luke adopted the entirely irresponsible and extremely reckless position of calling on people in Britain to vote in favour of Brexit - rather than attack him - I, and the Sinn Féin team of MEPs, concentrated on actually ensuring that Irish concerns regarding Brexit became central to the EU’s negotiating position.
While I feel that Luke’s advertisement warranted this corrective response, I will not engage in any negative campaigning in the European election.
I don’t need to, my record is one I can be proud of.
Instead, I will continue to work as part of an all-Ireland team fighting for the people of Ireland at home and in Europe.