Most think the European elections, held every five years, elect those whom they wish to represent them in that parliament. The reality is somewhat different in practice. Of the three members elected in 2010, just one with their name on the posters continues to serve.

Proinsias De Rossa who was first elected as a Workers Party representative in 1989, resigned the seat in 1992 to ultimately lead his party into government was at that time replaced by Des Geraghty. Representing the Labour Party, DeRossa returned to the European parliament in 1999. He retired in 2011 when he was replaced by his party’s substitute Emer Costello. Joe Higgins (SP) having contested each election since 1999, was eventually elected in 2009 and replaced by a second sub Paul Murphy. Gay Mitchell (FG) first elected in 2004 tells us he will not be seeking re-election next year. While Mitchell will, of the three elected in 2009 be the only one to serve out their full term. He did make the effort to leave Europe when he unsuccessfully contested the Presidential Election.

When we elect an MEP, we also elect a substitute. This person is the automatic replacement should the member elected vacate the office. Since 1979 Dublin has directly elected 27 people as MEPs. On nine occasions over that time substitution has occurred. In some cases the person elected has been replaced twice. In others the first sub has declined to serve.

Political parties hold selection conventions to decide who their candidate(s) will be and who will be substitute. The problem is that none of us look to see just who the sub is for the candidate we are electing. So we can end up with a total unknown who has no elected or front line political experience.

It may be time to fess up and put the whole panel on the programme. Just like in a football match, we ought to know who we are electing to be our representatives and not leave it to those in the back room.