Sinn Féin has denied it is backing populist strategies in its European election manifesto that have no chance of being delivered.
The party’s leader Mary Lou McDonald kicked off their European election campaign in Dublin on Monday, saying a vote for Sinn Féin was a vote for a party that would be “Eurocritical” in Europe.
“There’s no contradiction for us at all,” Ms McDonald said.
“The team have demonstrated that it is possible to engage fully and get results without becoming a lackey to a Europhile establishment view of the world.
“It is possible for people who have real problems with the direction of the European Union to elect people who share that criticism and who can engage in those institutions and make real, real progress.”
The party’s manifesto promises its MEPs will fight to ensure no EU money is given to the arms industry, there are no carbon tax hikes and continued access to CAP funding for farmers in Northern Ireland post Brexit.
Ms McDonald said the European project had “lost its way” and if the system did not do some “soul-searching” in the aftermath of Brexit then it was in for “big trouble”.
“As we engage in a way that is Eurocritical, we recognise the need and positivity of working together,” she said.
She said she believed all four of the party’s MEPs, who attended the launch in Dublin’s Architectural Archive on Monday before holding a Belfast launch later in the day, would be returned to the EU parliament.
Dublin MEP candidate Lynn Boylan said Sinn Féin was “absolutely in favour of Ireland’s position within the EU” but that radical reform of the institutions was needed.
“That’s not being Eurosceptic, that’s being Eurocritical,” she told those gathered at the launch.
Ms Boylan said change was needed to lobbying rules as the EU now has more corporate lobbyists than Washington DC.
She said the party would also continue to oppose the militarisation of arms and push for reform of climate change policies.
“Our position on carbon tax is based on evidence, it’s factually based, it has nothing to do with populism,” she said.
“Carbon taxes have not worked in one single jurisdiction where they have been introduced.”
Midlands-North-West candidate Matt Carty said one of the priorities of the Sinn Féin team in the next European parliament would be stopping an EU directive on non-performing loans.
He said the proposed directive, which was supported by groups of which Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael were members in Europe, would “in fact promote the use of vulture funds”.
“Anyone who is casting a vote for a Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael candidate is, in fact, voting for the promotion of vulture funds at Irish and EU level,” he claimed.
Ireland South MEP Liadh Ni Riada said her priorities would be rural Ireland, the Irish language and the country’s fisheries policy.
“Rural Ireland is completely being undermined, dismantled and just being forgotten about for many, many years now,” she claimed.
“It’s becoming nigh on impossible to have any kind of decent life in rural Ireland.
“The cost of living is sky high and now we’re giving away the family silver by pushing ahead with this nonsensical broadband deal,” she said.
Northern Ireland MEP Martina Anderson said Sinn Féin had proposed a special status for Northern Ireland after Brexit which had become key policy in the parliament.
- Press Association