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Have you heard about Fine Gael's dubious colleagues in Brussels?

The party’s uncritical acceptance of 14 Hungarian MEPs that represent Viktor Orban’s far right Fidesz would make you question its priorities in the EU, writes Lynn Boylan.

Lynn Boylan

FINE GAEL MEPS are keeping some very dubious company in Brussels. The party’s uncritical acceptance of 14 Hungarian MEPs that represent Viktor Orban’s far right Fidesz party would have to make you question its priorities in the EU.

Do they really favour numbers in their European People’s Party (EPP) group over human rights, freedom of press, and civil liberties?  Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary has been roundly criticised in the last number of years for his far right policies.

He has passed legislation that has curtailed the freedom of press in Hungary and has attempted to hamper the work of women and gay rights organisations and NGOs such as Transparency International, accusing them of being “paid political activists attempting to assert foreign interests in Hungary”.

In May, Enda Kenny and his party celebrated the outcome of Ireland’s marriage equality referendum and rightly so, it was a great day for Ireland and our LGBT community.

Meanwhile, their Hungarian colleagues changed the constitution to not only ban gay marriage but to also remove any constitutional protection from discrimination of the LGBT community.

When the courts overturned these laws, along with a law criminalising sleeping on the streets, Orban used his supermajority in the Hungarian parliament to pass laws limiting the powers of the constitutional courts.

Orban’s government has steered Hungary in a very conservave direction. Children as young as 10 are being told in state backed textbooks that homosexuality is a ‘deadly sin’ while biology textbooks refer to homosexuality as a mental disorder linked to HIV/Aids and risky behaviour.

ILGA, a Brussels based organisation for LGBTI equality, reported that homosexuals in Hungary are now suffering from a general climate of increased fear and violence against minorities.

‘Not a peep out of Fine Gael’

Orban cites Russia, China and Turkey as role model states that he would like to see Hungary emulate. Yet Fine Gael MEPs see no contradiction in their willingness to sit side by side with their Fidesz colleagues and their own recent support for a vote calling for greater collaboraon with NATO and the US military against Russia in the Black Sea Region.

There has not been a peep out of Fine Gael MEPs regarding Orban’s actions and how they reflect on the values of the EPP group to which they are members. Not even a dickie bird from them when the Council of Europe published a highly critical report on Orban’s so-called reforms. Nothing to see here folks.

Even when the Hungarian Prime Minister flagged his intention to reintroduce the death penalty, in contravention of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, did the EU Rule loving Fine Gael party feel the need to comment.

When Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly called for a more humane and coordinated approach to the migrant crisis, did he never think to knock on the door of his 14 Hungarian colleagues and question why their party has just voted in favour of erecting a migrant fence? It appears not.

In May, the European Parliament passed a resolution, with no thanks to the EPP group, condemning the actions of the Hungarian prime minister. The EPP not only opposed it but the leader of the group, Manfred Weber, stood up and dismissed the critical resolution as politically motivated.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised that Fine Gael MEPs have failed to put their head above the parapet in cricising their Fidesz colleagues. That would risk being seen as a dissenting voice.

It would risk the attention of EPP members , Jean Claude Juncker and Angela Merkel, and as we have all seen from recent events in Greece, Fine Gael only talks hard when it is with the permission of their political masters in Brussels.

Lynn Boylan is a Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin. 

In a response to some of the issues raised in this article, Fine Gael MEPs said in a joint statement that Boylan was “appallingly hypocritical” given Sinn Féin’s approach to the Maira Cahill controversy and said the party had joined extremists in the European Parliament in opposing the TTIP trade deal. The statement added:  

Do the Fine Gael MEPs take issue with Viktor Orban when we need to? Of course we do. We have made our views known within our political group, the EPP, as regards some of his domestic policy. Mr Orban was recently brought before the EPP Group in Strasbourg and Members made it very clear to him that everyone in the EPP is expected to respect and abide by European values.

Read: Fine Gael MEPs have been compared to fascists

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Lynn Boylan

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