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Varadkar concerned about 'external interference' in European elections

The Taoiseach has said there is “a real risk” the upcoming elections could be targeted.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/PA Images

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said he is concerned about potential interference in this year’s European Parliament elections.

Concerns have been raised about potential interference in the upcoming elections, due to take place in May, after US intelligence agencies accused Russia of interfering in the 2016 election which saw Donald Trump become president.

Moscow has denied these allegations.

When asked about the situation in Europe, Varadkar said: “I would certainly be concerned about external interference in European elections. It can come from many sources, I wouldn’t particularly hone in on any particular source.

“We do know there has been election interference in quite a number of elections and protest movements and so on. That is something as EU leaders we are quite concerned with, we discussed it in Brussels last week.

We all know it is a real risk. What people can’t come up with is an easy solution as to what you actually do about it other than notifying it and calling it out and saying it is happening.

The Fine Gael leader noted that European elections tend to have a low turnout, adding: “People often use them as an opportunity to register a protest and they are very vulnerable to interference and external actors.

“Bear in mind, the EU Parliament is a very powerful institution. If we had a parliament full of nationalists, populists and extremists, it could bring a lot of the work we do in Europe to a halt – so it is serious issue and one we need to be across.”

With reporting by Christina Finn 

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