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30 March 2015

MEP Anderson's picky about what causes to favour

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson

If any of you are wondering what Martina Anderson's been doing since she quit the Assembly in 2012, I can report that she's very, very busy in the EU, the Middle East and South America, hanging out with undesirables.

Well, to be fair, people I think are undesirables.

She and her party leaders are obviously delighted with them.

To refresh your memories, Anderson was released in 1998 under the Good Friday Agreement after serving 13 years on charges of conspiring to cause explosions in England.

(She had been arrested in Glasgow in 1985 along with - among others - Pat Magee, who the previous year had murdered five people in the Brighton Grand Hotel.)

She threw herself into Sinn Fein activism and, in 2007, was elected MLA for Foyle, nominated for the Policing Board and appointed Sinn Fein's director of unionist engagement.

(I know, I know, but sometimes the party leadership likes to have a bit of a laugh.)

That she was tipped for the top was evident when, in 2011, she was made a junior minister in OFMDFM, so the following year, the dutiful Bairbre de Brun resigned as an MEP and Anderson took over with two years before the European election to raise her profile province-wide.

She duly topped the poll.

In the European Parliament, Anderson has displaying plenty of energy and enthusiasm as a member of the dingbat European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) parliamentary group.

You'll find on the internet fetching photographs of her with leading figures from such favourite parties of Sinn Fein's as Greek's Syriza, Spain's Podemos, the Portuguese and Cypriot communist parties and, of course, the Basques.

Ever-eager to demonstrate her brass neck, in parliament Anderson recently called on Turkey to tell the truth behind the murder and secret burial of Cypriots during the 1974 invasion.

Her friends in GUE/INGL have shown their gratitude by promising to send a fact-finding delegation to Ireland to assess progress in the peace process.

What a pity that she's no longer director of unionist outreach.

Sinn Fein tell us they're engaged in fighting "the ideological war that has engulfed Irish society and which stretches across Western Europe and the Americas," but though Anderson's a leading warrior in this, she still found time as chair of the EU parliament's Palestinian legislative council to visit the Middle East this month.

For the third time in her career, she was not allowed into Gaza, but there's a picture of her with Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian chief negotiator, with his arm around her. Perhaps I overlooked the photographs, but she doesn't seem to have met any Israelis, other than border guards.

Anderson doesn't seem to have been back to vote on the motion in the EU parliament calling on EU states to support action against Isis.

Most of the 11% of MEPs who voted against were from GUE/INGL and two were from Sinn Fein.

They haven't explained why: perhaps they feel they're fellow-rebels.

Anderson must be worn out, for no sooner was she back from not getting into Gaza and demanding that the British and Irish governments immediately recognise a Palestinian state, but she was off to Buenos Aires to the International Forum for Empowerment and Equality.

That was opened by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner herself.

I can't find a photograph of her with Anderson, but there's a very cheery one with the anti-American and anti-capitalist anarcho-syndicalism legend Noam Chomsky.

Since Anderson is a member of the parliament's committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs, I hope that, while she was shooting the breeze with Argentinian intellectuals, she took a break from agreeing that the Falklands are the Malvinas to ask about Alberto Nisman.

Nisman was the prosecutor who, in January, presented a 289-page writ in court that, he claimed, revealed that for political reasons the president had headed a conspiracy to clear five high-ranking Iranian suspects of charges of masterminding the murder of 85 people in the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community centre.

A few days later, he died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Do you expect Martina Anderson to come back and protest about that in the European Parliament?

No, me neither.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

© Ruth Dudley Edwards