Sunday 17 December 2017

Sinn Fein is accused of undermining terror fight

Government criticises party for voting against formation of new EU committee

Party line: MEP Lynn Boylan
Party line: MEP Lynn Boylan
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Sinn Fein has been criticised by the Government after it voted against proposals to establish an EU counter-terrorism committee.

Defence Minister Paul Kehoe said he was disappointed to see political parties vote against measures that would help to protect European nations from attacks.

The European Parliament voted on Thursday to set up a temporary special committee to address weaknesses in the fight against terrorism across the EU. The committee will examine and evaluate the terrorist threat on European soil and look into any potential faults and malfunctions that might have allowed recent attacks.

MEPs voted overwhelmingly to set up the special committee with 527 votes in favour, 73 against and 36 abstentions.

Sinn Fein has been criticised after it joined France's Front National in voting against the proposal.

Mr Kehoe said it was in the country's best interests that information was shared between member states to prevent terror attacks.

"It is disappointing, but not surprising, that some political parties would vote against such measures," he said. "Ireland's interests, and those of our European partners, are best served by working together to enhance our efforts to counter the threats of international terrorism."

Sinn Fein, whose MEPs include Lynn Boylan, Matt Carthy and Liadh Ni Riada, condemned recent terror attacks but said personal freedoms must be protected.

"Instead of more anti-terror laws taking away civil liberties, the existing frameworks and laws should be used more efficiently in order to combat terror," said a spokesman.

"The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) already has a counter-terror remit. Any new terrorism committee would simply dilute the role of LIBE and either form of terrorism committee proposed would be an avenue toward greater EU militarisation.

"The EU was founded to protect civil rights and prevent the spread of conflict, not to create a fortress Europa."

Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes said the European Parliament's decision would help governments fight terrorism.

"Terrorism is by its very nature international. Look at the attacks in London, Paris and Brussels," he said.

"Sinn Fein's stance in opposition to this committee is just another example of how unfit they are for government. They remain set apart from the European political mainstream."

Sunday Independent

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