Questions remain over Sinn Féin’s voting record on Russia – MEP Maria Walsh

The Sinn Féin party has questions to answer over its voting record on Russia and particularly on the issue of foreign interference, according to a Fine Gael MEP.

MEP Maria Walsh points to Sinn Féin abstentions on important votes to condemn the undemocratic tactics of dictator Putin’s authoritarian state.

It follows reporting by Irish media stating that a new Irish-language news website has been established by pro-Kremlin propagandists, as well as a warning from French officials to the Irish Government of a “new intensity” to Russian online disinformation, which poses a threat  to the upcoming European Parliament elections.

Maria Walsh, MEP for Midlands-North West, said:

“Sinn Féin’s MEP has abstained on important European Parliament votes concerning Russian interference. 

“In June 2023, Sinn Féin’s only MEP abstained on a major European Parliament report by the Parliament’s Special Committee on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the European Union, including Disinformation. 

“The report on Foreign Interference warned that foreign interference, disinformation, and attacks on democracy are likely to continue in ever-greater numbers and to become more sophisticated in the run-up to the European Parliament elections taking place next month. It highlighted concern for interference on online platforms, protection of critical infrastructure and strategic sectors, interference during electoral processes and the covert funding of political activities by foreign actors. Two other Irish Left MEPs voted against that report. 

“We know that Sinn Féin has a historically pro-Russian voting record at EU level.

“Right before Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine for its most recent illegal invasion of February 2022 and the ensuing brutal attack on innocent Ukrainian people, Sinn Féin’s only MEP voted against a European Parliament Resolution that supported Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

The aforementioned resolution on the ‘Situation at the Ukrainian border and in Russian occupied territories of Ukraine’ underlined that the Russian military build-up at Ukraine’s borders represents a threat to Europe’s peace and security. It also called on Russia to respect its international obligations. Sinn Féin’s only MEP joined other Left Irish MEPs in voting against that text. Irish Green MEPs abstained.

“It was only after intense media scrutiny of the party’s record, that Sinn Féin began to change their voting patterns and commentary on Russia. However, questions remain, particularly over Sinn Féin’s position on foreign interference”, Walsh said.