Sinn Féin’s two new members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are to work within the United European Left and Nordic Green Alliance group in the parliament, they confirmed today.
As they prepared for their first visit to the Parliament as MEPs, Mary Lou McDonald and Bairbre de Brun said they would use their new platform to advance the peace process and push for European Union reform.
They said: “We enter the European Parliament as Sinn Féin MEPs mandated to deliver on our agenda for change and to deliver for Ireland. This means working effectively both inside the Parliament and in Ireland.
“In Europe we will work through the European United Left/Nordic Green Group (GUE/HGL). This is a very effective and progressive group within the Parliament, which does not operate a whip system ensuring that for us, it is Sinn Féin’s and Ireland’s priorities, which will come first.
“We will also continue to engage with the widest possible range of MEPs and groups across Europe to advance our agenda for change on EU matters, the peace process and Irish unity and independence.”
Sinn Féin’s decision to link up with the United European Left/Nordic Green Alliance comes as little surprise.
The party hosted a visit by the group to north and west Belfast in March.
However during the visit to Belfast, the group of 33 MEPs was accused of being “Trotskyite” by hardline Unionist, Jim Allister.
The United European Left/Nordic Green Alliance has in the past drawn MEPs from the French, Portuguese and Italian Communist Parties, the Latvian and Dutch Socialists and the Greek Democratic Social Party.
The Sinn Féin MEPs vowed to continue the party’s outreach work with local communities, women’s groups, trade unions, voluntary organisations, business sector, farming organisations and justice groups on both sides of the border.
“We want to demystify the role of MEPs and to develop mechanisms whereby that position can be used as a conduit to empower local communities,” they said.
The chairman of the European United Left, Mr Francis Wurtz, said Sinn Féin had “something remarkable to offer” the group, particularly in view of the party’s experience in the Six Counties.
“Sinn Féin membership will reinforce our political identity as one of the most energetic, innovative and progressive political groups in the European Parliament. We hope to benefit from their expertise on conflict resolution, on defending civil rights, and on advancing politics out of stalemate and into compromise,” he said.
The group is one of smallest in the Parliament. The arrival of the two Sinn Féin MEPs for the North and Dublin will bring its membership to 41.