‘Cold storage’ MEPS have no status, salary, facilities or expenses, says European Parliament

Ireland’s two extra MEPs will have to wait until Britain leaves EU

The fourth MEP elected in Dublin, and the fifth in the Ireland South constituency, will have no formal or informal position, no salary, expenses or facilities, until the UK leaves the EU, the European Parliament has confirmed.

While the elections were conducted with an extra seat in both constituencies, there is no legal basis for considering the last candidate to be an MEPs until the British MEPs leave the parliament on Brexit day. As such, they are not legally elected to anything yet.

According to EU law, 751 MEPs, including 73 from the UK, were elected at last weekend’s polls. That includes eleven from Ireland - four from Midlands North West, four from South and three from Dublin.

The fourth candidate in Dublin was Fianna Fáil’s Barry Andrews. Three seats are yet to be filled in Ireland South and a re-check under way on Thursday will decide who takes the final “cold storage” seat.


On the day the UK leaves the EU - currently set from October 31st this year but twice extended already - the composition of the European Parliament will change. All the UK MEPs will immediately leave and the Parliament will then be composed of 705 MEPs, the Parliament’s office in Dublin says. It is only then that some countries will take up additional seats, including Ireland, which will take up one seat extra in Dublin and South - the fourth and fifth-placed candidates in the elections respectively.

“Until that point, there is no legal basis for the European Parliament to attribute any particular status to these two individuals,” the Parliament says.

They would be entitled to attended the parliament, but only as citizens, and will be afforded no special access or privileges.

The first sitting of the new Parliament will take place in Strasbourg from July 2nd-4th. New MEPs will receive salaries and expenses from July 2nd.

Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada sought a recount of votes in Ireland South constituency on Wednesday night as she faced losing her European Parliament seat to the Green Party’s Grace O’Sullivan.

Once the count is completed, the fifth place finisher will be placed in reserve until the UK leaves the EU.

Earlier this year, the Government indicated that those in reserve seats would not receive salaries or benefits until they take their seats, although it said the matter is an issue for the European Parliament which clarified the matter on Thursday.

Meanwhile, four by-elections will be needed to fill the Dáil vacancies created by Mick Wallace in Wexford, Clare Daly in Dublin Fingal, Frances Fitzgerald in Dublin Mid West and Billy Kelleher in Cork North Central. The writs must be moved within six months of the new MEPs taking their seats in the European Parliament on July 2nd.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times