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Liadh Ni Riada MEPPicture: Jim Coughlan.
Liadh Ni Riada MEPPicture: Jim Coughlan.

Billy Kelleher 'naive or in denial' about EU army planning, says Liadh Ní Riada

FIANNA Fáil’s Billy Kelleher is “either seriously naive or in denial” about the prospects of an EU army, according to his European election opponent Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada. 

She was responding to comments from Mr Kelleher comparing Sinn Féin to UK politician Nigel Farage and Tory Brexiteers, saying the party was “seeking to pedal its inaccurate propaganda to create a sense of fear among the public about a European army.” She called Mr Kelleher “sensationalist” but said that the facts speak for themselves.

“It is very clear, to anybody paying attention, that an EU army is being created and they are putting an EU defence fund of €13bn in place to help bring it about,” she said.

“I sit on the budget committee of the European Parliament and I see these moves being made up close and personal.”

She said that Fianna Fáil’s ALDE grouping is strongly in favour of these moves.

“I suspect what Billy Kelleher is trying to deflect from is that Fianna Fáil is in favour of further militarisation and the group to which they are aligned in the EU Parliament are strong supporters of an EU army,” she said.

“Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of Fianna Fáil’s group in the European Parliament, is a leading proponent of militarisation. He has described the support of Merkel and Macron for an EU army as ‘great news’.”

Ms Ní Riada said that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are compromising Irish neutrality and pushing money away from other services.

“Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have signed up to PESCO — a military alliance that is seen as the foundation stone of a single EU Army. The reality is that Fianna Fáil are weak on defending Irish neutrality both domestically and in Europe. The €13bn being set aside for military spending means less money for farming, housing, schools and childcare programmes.”