“Fine Gael and its Leader, Leo Varadkar need to stand up to the illiberal, anti-democratic and thuggish behaviour of its European ally, Fidesz and the Hungarian Prime Minister, Victor Orban,” said Fianna Fáil’s Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Niall Collins.

Deputy Collins was commenting after Orban and his government pushed through legislation to restrict the ability of NGOs to help asylum seekers.

“The ‘Stop Soros’ Bill which passed through the Hungarian Parliament last week has the stated aim of stopping individuals or groups helping illegal migrants gain status to stay in Hungary by threatening them with prison.

“It’s time the Taoiseach, Fine Gael and the European Peoples Party (EPP) made it crystal clear to Orban and Fidesz that their actions are undermining democracy in Hungary and have no place in the European Union. Only last week, Orban pledged his continued support of the EPP so until the EPP and its member parties, such as Fine Gael, step up to the plate, Fidesz will retain its place at the top table.

“There are basic norms and values that underpin the union. Despite our political disagreements, the EPP and Fianna Fáil’s party, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats have always shared a common belief system based on the respect of law, a free and independent judiciary and the ability of non-governmental actors to engage in campaigning and advocacy free from political interference.

“One can only surmise that the EPP want to retain Fidesz as full members in order to maximise their clout in the European institutions, and in particular the Council and Parliament.

“Listening to the Taoiseach during President Juncker’s visit to the Oireachtas, I was struck by him recounting his support for the values of the European Union, notably democracy and respect for rule of law. Does he not realise that his ally in Hungary is going against those values every day of the week?

“The European Union must be about more than jobs for the boys in the EPP. Our values, our belief system and our way of working together in harmony to create a more peaceful, more prosperous and more perfect union cannot be set aside to win short term political gain,” concluded Collins.