Claire Daly and Mick Wallace are among eight MEPs who have been «blacklisted» by the European Parliament for allegedly going on fake election observation trips.
However, the two Irish politicians denied the allegations and said they did not pretend to be in an official election monitoring mandate during the respective flights.
The list means that they are barred from going on official election observation missions in the European Parliament until the end of this year.
Three other European politicians were reprimanded and received official warnings.
Daly and Mr. Wallace are both members of the far left Ghosh unitaire européenne/North Green Left group in the European Parliament.
Both were put on the «blacklist» along with another MEP for that party for traveling to observe elections in Ecuador or Venezuela.
The other five MEPs blacklisted are French politicians from the far-right group Identity and Democracy, according to an EU Observer report.
In a joint statement to The Independent, Ms. Daly and Mr. Wallace said they would challenge the blacklist and it was a «political ploy by center-right parties in the European Parliament».
They added, «These are not ‘fake election observation flights’.»
“We made it very clear by public announcement at the time that we were not visiting Ecuador or Venezuela with an official mandate to observe the elections.
“Our decision to leave was not influenced by the governments involved. We both have a long-standing interest in the affairs of both countries, and oppose EU and US policy in the region.
«We traveled on our own initiative as part of larger delegations from the European left to see for ourselves how these elections were conducted, and to build solidarity with the left movements in these countries.»
Stephanie Schaefer, head of the European Platform for Democratic Elections, told the EU Observer newspaper that the fake observation flights involved inviting MEPs by authoritarian host governments onto paid-for scrap ships a few days before the elections and who announced, while waving them, that they were not. European Parliament credentials, that the votes were free and fair.
According to the publication, the eight blacklisted MEPs and the three reprimanded for making mock election observation trips were summoned at a Democracy and Election Coordination Support Group (DEG) meeting last week.
The names were read by the co-chair of the DEG, center-right Swedish MEP Thomas Toby, according to several sources at the press conference.
He noted that the dummy missions were particularly «disturbing» because the pandemic prevented the European Parliament from doing its real job of monitoring.
The group is made up of 15 MEPS who oversee the European Parliament’s efforts to support democracy outside the European Union.
Each year, Parliament sends 10-12 short-term election observation delegations to countries outside the European Union, and each delegation is headed by a member of the European Parliament.
However, due to Covid-19, DEG has been prevented from doing its real monitoring work. The group’s head, European MP Thomas Toby, told the EU Observer newspaper, this is what makes the fake flights particularly «alarming».
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