“It’s time for Fine Gael and the EPP to pick a side: Rule of Law, LGBT rights, judicial independence and media freedom, or Fidesz and Victor Orban,” says Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher as he calls for the exclusion of the Hungarian political party, Fidesz from their European political group.

Kelleher made the stark call, as it emerged that both Hungary and Poland have blocked the passage of the EU budget citing their disagreement with new mechanisms, and sanctions, to deal with Member States that flout EU rules and values.

“For years, the dogs on the street have known that Fidesz, the EPP’s member party in Hungary, were a party of bigots and ultra-nationalists. Fine Gael knows this. The EPP knows this. Yet they have done nothing other than merely suspend them.

“That’s simply not good enough. It’s time they were expelled. How can the rest of the EU negotiate with the EPP in good faith on crucial issues when we know lurking in the background is the Fidesz party with their anti-liberal, anti-democratic leader Victor Orban exerting influence?

“To my mind, the only reason they are kept in their political family is to maintain the EPP’s political influence – an additional PM at the European Council, an additional commissioner at the European Commission, and an additional 12 members of the European Parliament.

“I would never make the leap and accuse Fine Gael of believing in the things Fidesz do. However, sometimes acquiescing, and facilitating their continued involvement at the top table of European politics, can be just as bad.

“The Tánaiste, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Justice are all serious players in the European People’s Party. It’s time they did the right thing and moved quickly to expel Fidesz for their actions which fly in the face of our common EU rules and values,” concluded Kelleher.