EU socialists refused Labour MEPs' treaty funds request

Tue, Jun 5, 2012, 01:00

THE MAIN socialist group in the European Parliament refused additional funding to the three Irish Labour MEPs for the fiscal treaty referendum campaign due to the absence of growth measures in the pact, it has emerged.

The group’s decision to hold back an extra round of funding came as its rivals in the parliament ploughed more than €360,000 into the Irish campaign.

Most of this money – funded by European taxpayers – was spent on the No side after the entry of the anti-treaty United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) into the referendum debate.

The Socialist Democrats (SD) said its Irish delegation – comprising Labour MEPs Nessa Childers, Phil Prendergast and Emer Costello – spent money only from their own portion of the group’s budget in the campaign.

The MEPs asked for more funding but were declined “because we were not in favour of the fiscal pact”, a SD spokeswoman said.

“Each delegation has its own budget. The SD group has a separate budget. The Irish delegation had requested extra money from the group for the campaign and this was refused,” she added.

“On top of that the group has requested that any money spent on the campaign by the Irish delegation should promote the need for a growth and solidarity pact.”

The spokeswoman said no figure was yet available on the amount the MEPs spent.

Ms Childers said last night she spent €8,000.

The SD group’s refusal to grant additional funding came as the European People’s Party organisation in the Parliament – Fine Gael’s group – spent €60,000 on the Irish campaign, mostly on posters.

Ukip’s affiliate – the Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group – spent €199,000 circulating every home in the State with an anti-treaty leaflet.

The Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group does not have any Irish affiliate, yet it previously intervened in the second Lisbon Treaty referendum to call for a No vote.*

A spokesman for Fianna Fáil’s group, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, said it provided a total of €75,000 for campaigning in Ireland.

This included some €65,000 to the three Fianna Fáil MEPs – Pat the Cope” Gallagher, Liam Aylward and Brian Crowley – with the balance going to Independent Marian Harkin.

The European United Left/ Nordic Green Left group said it gave €30,000 to its two Irish affiliates, Sinn Féin and the Socialist Party.

“The group made available €15,000 each to the two delegations, essentially for posters,” a spokeswoman said.

*This article was amended on June 5th, 2012, to correct an error