Monday 17 June 2019

'I have never supported bombing' - Durkan hits back at SF

Fine Gael European Election candidate Mark Durkan. Photo: Collins
Fine Gael European Election candidate Mark Durkan. Photo: Collins
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

European Election candidate Mark Durkan has hit back at Sinn Féin's claim that Fine Gael supports militarisation of the EU saying that he never supported bombing anywhere, but that the rival party can't say the same.

Mr Durkan made the pointed reference to Sinn Féin's support for the Provisional IRA's campaign of terror as he responded to criticisms made by his Dublin opponent Lynn Boylan during the campaign.

Ms Boylan has claimed that Fine Gael can't be trusted with Irish neutrality and wants further integration and militarisation in the EU. Mr Durkan said Sinn Féin's claims come from "a playbook of innuendo against Europe".

He said he was someone who negotiated for peace in Northern Ireland and voted against military action in Syria and Libya when he was a Westminster MP.

"I'm someone that's never supported bombing. I didn't support bombing in this country, I haven't supported it in any other country. Sinn Féin cannot say that," he added.

Mr Durkan also referred to the use of clips of European Parliament speeches by Sinn Féin leader and former MEP Mary Lou McDonald by Nigel Farage's Brexit Party.

Its YouTube page features a montage including a variety of contributions made by Ms McDonald in 2008 when the Lisbon Treaty was being debated ahead of the first referendum, when it was rejected by Irish voters.

Ms McDonald said the treaty "gives powerful EU institutions a free hand to further militarise our union".

Mr Durkan claimed Sinn Féin's message provided "grist to Nigel Farage's mill".

He added: "Sinn Féin claim to have moved from being Eurosceptic to being Euro critical but it's clear that they essentially are backing vocalists for Euro disrupters."

A Sinn Féin spokesperson responded, saying: "This is a desperate attempt by Mark Durkan to make himself relevant."

The spokesperson claimed: "His ignorance to the militarisation of the EU is astonishing, especially when senior European figures have been so open about their support for the establishment of an EU army."

They added that Mr Durkan "seems to forget which party banner he is running under".

Meanwhile, a row erupted between Fine Gael and RTÉ after Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty claimed Mr Durkan was "excluded" from an upcoming TV debate.

Ms Doherty said her party was not allowed choose which of their Dublin candidates will appear on Monday night's 'Claire Byrne Live' debate as the criteria set out by RTÉ meant Mr Durkan was disqualified. She said former Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald will take part in the debate but that "RTÉ took that choice away from us".

RTÉ's managing editor of current affairs David Nally said: "RTÉ current affairs decides who appears on its programmes in the best interests of the viewing public and not anybody else."

He said RTÉ's criteria for the debates are that where a party has two candidates in the same constituency, the one that is currently elected will be invited.

He said: "Frances Fitzgerald is currently elected to the Dáil and Mark Durkan is not currently elected to any body. An RTÉ statement said that Mr Durkan was included in the 'Week in Politics' debate earlier this month.

Irish Independent

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