Sinn Fein making an impact in Europe
Sinn Fein is now the joint largest Irish parliamentary group in the European Parliament. Its emergence as the largest party of the Left in Ireland is seen as highly significant.
Other anti-austerity parties, particularly in Greece, Spain and Portugal, have made electoral advances. Alongside Sinn Fein, these parties have swelled the GUE-NGL group in the parliament.
Next month, GUE-NGL will send a delegation to visit Palestine. Martina Anderson will represent Sinn Fein.
It has been agreed Martina will be chairperson of the European Parliament's delegation for relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council.
This appointment will be a major diplomatic opportunity to build on Irish solidarity with the victims of Israel's siege against Gaza.
Since their election, Sinn Fein's MEPs have been guided by a political strategy aimed at maximising support for the peace process and Irish unity, accruing maximum benefit from EU institutions, opposing austerity and promoting transparency.
Martina will be overall rapporteur on civil liberties for a series of future reports on "legal highs". Matt Carthy will sit on both the agriculture/rural affairs and economic/monetary affairs committees. Lynn Boylan will sit on the parliament's working group on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, while Liadh Ní Riadh will be the budget committee's rapporteur on that fund.
The British Government doesn't apply for these funds and has made it impossible for the Executive to do so, while the Irish government has been incompetent in its approach.
Already the MEPs have provided extensive briefings within the institutions on the northern political process. Martin McGuinness will consolidate that in October when he visits the parliament to brief key officials.
The Sinn Fein team has also commenced work with other MEPs to address banking debt. Other plans include an all-Ireland review of fishing quotas.
Sinn Fein MEPs have started to make an impact in the European Parliament. There is much more to come.