Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, John Brady TD, today called upon Minister Simon Coveney to respond to reports that the European People’s Party (EPP), the grouping which Fine Gael is aligned with in the European Parliament, is actively working to support the corrupt government of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.
Borissov’s party GERB, along with Fine Gael are members of the European Centre Right.
Wicklow TD Brady said:
“Minister Simon Coveney needs to clarify what the government position is on this matter. The Bulgarian people have been taking to the streets over the last three months in their thousands to protest rampant corruption, and links to organised crime amongst its political elite.
“Bulgaria is a member of the EU. It is the poorest country in the EU and its people are every bit as deserving of the support of the EU, and its member states including Ireland, as countries such as Belarus.
“The people of Bulgaria have lost all confidence in their government. They do have confidence in the institutions of the EU – at least they had until this week.
“They are looking to the EU to defend the principles of democratic accountability. To hold corrupt leaders and law makers to account.
“Instead we have been treated to the sight of Minister Coveney’s colleagues in the EPP offering support for Borissov’s regime.
“The leader of the EPP group, Manfred Weber tweeted a defence of Borissov’s party, arguing that the country did not need fresh elections.
“Instead Fine Gael’s group associates insist on defending Prime Minister Borissov as a pro-European leader.
“The leadership of the Fine Gael supported grouping disgracefully refused to allow a Bulgarian MEP, who has stringently and vocally opposed the corrupt government of Borisov floor time to address the EU Parliament.
“Bulgaria ranks as the EU’s most corrupt country on the Transparency International Index. It ranks 111th in the world in terms of media freedom.
“I repeat my call for Minister Coveney to address these issues, and to outline what is the government’s position on Bulgaria.
“The simple question is, does Fine Gael stand with their grouping in the EU parliament in offering support and succour to the most corrupt government in Europe?
“Or will Fine Gael stand in support of those such as the EU’s most senior official on democracy, Commissioner Věra Jourová, who wants to pressure Bulgaria, until the EU sees tangible results in the fight to end government corruption, and to reform the judiciary.
“As according to Commissioner Jourová, ‘there is still unfinished business. And we want to see the job done’.
“I also believe the leader of the Green Party Eamon Ryan must clarify if the Green’s in Ireland will hold their government colleagues in Fine Gael to account and support their own Green colleagues in the European parliament who have vociferously opposed the EPP position”.