A decision by Sinn Fein MEPs to oppose a motion calling on EU states to support action against ISIS has been condemned.
Two of the party’s European representatives voted against the motion backing current measures against the extremist group, which also goes by the names Islamic State and Da’esh.
The resolution also called for states to seek out non-military actions such as cutting the group’s funding.
Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson said it was “hard to believe” that the Sinn Fein members had taken the position they had.
The motion in question was titled, ‘European Parliament resolution on recent attacks and abductions by Da’esh in the Middle East, notably of Assyrians’.
It contained a number of clauses, including one calling on MEPs to support “international efforts against ISIS/Da’esh, including the military actions of the international coalition, coordinated by the United States, and encourages the EU Member States who have not already done so to consider ways of contributing to these efforts, including tracing and interdicting ISIS secret funds held overseas”.
Sinn Fein declined to explain the decision on Monday night.
When this clause came down to a vote on March 12, the website Votewatch.eu records that the overwhelming majority of politicians were in favour of it.
However, 11 per cent voted against – including Matt Carthy and Lynn Boylan, two Sinn Fein MEPs from the Republic.
Meanwhile, around one per cent of MEPs abstained.
Sinn Fein’s Northern Irish MEP Martina Anderson is not listed as having cast a preference during the vote.
In the European Parliament, Sinn Fein belongs to a bloc called the European United Left/Nordic Green Lef, which includes a number of communist parties.
Most of the opposition to the clause in the motion had stemmed from this group.
Sinn Fein was contacted on Monday to ask why the MEPs had taken such a stance, and what its position was on ISIS more generally.
However, no answer was forthcoming.
Long-serving UUP MEP Mr Nicholson said: “They voted against it. To have voted for it is what all right-thinking people would have done. I just do not understand it.
“Sinn Fein have continued to support their communist friends in voting in favour of ISIS.”
He suggested there was “a hair’s breadth” between supporting ISIS and opposing such a motion.
He added: “I think when you look at the terrible atrocities that take place under the realm of ISIS in those countries at the moment, I think on that particular position I’d leave it for others to judge whether Sinn Fein are right or not.”
ISIS has faced massive international condemnation for activities including harsh persecution of religious minorities, and beheading and burning alive captives.