NEWS

Ignoring Greeks' plight will fuel far right, warns Sinn Fein's Adams

By Padraic Halpin & Conor Humphries

DUBLIN - Europe and the "undemocratic" European Central Bank risk fueling the growth of right-wing parties across the continent if they ignore the will of the Greek people, Gerry Adams, leader of Ireland's leftist Sinn Fein said on Thursday.

The new Greek government's hopes of renegotiating its debt pile have been doused by its eurozone peers this week and the ECB pulled its funding line for Greek banks.

Adams, whose party has seen its support surge during Europe's debt crisis and who is close to new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, warned Europe there were far more dangerous alternatives to SYRIZA, Sinn Fein or Spain's Podemos.

"The effect will be that more and more people will be politicized as part of that experience. Something has to give," Adams told Reuters in an interview in his office in Ireland's parliament. "What has been proposed is eminently sensible, it isn't hardline, it isn't ultra-left.

"If you're not about trying to bring about the basis where people feel as equals, you'll get the growth of right wing parties and that's more dangerous," Adams said.

While the popularity of left-wing parties like Sinn Fein has grown during Europe's financial crisis, so too has support for a range of parties from the National Front in France to Greece's Golden Dawn, which won 17 seats in last month's elections.

Sinn Fein has gone from having five of the 166 seats in Ireland's parliament before the 2008 financial meltdown to being the most popular party in some opinion polls, threatening the biggest shake-up of politics in generations.

Although describing the ECB's actions this week with Greece as "undemocratic" and "almost macho", he assured Brussels that although Sinn Fein is a critic of the European Union, it would not look to pick a fight if it entered government.

"We are very critical of the fact that it's governed by unelected commissions. We think a different, social European Union is possible, that power has to go from Brussels back into the member states," said Adams, 65, who has led the party for over 30 years.

"We're not about confrontation, we understand the need to stand firm on certain basic principles but are also pragmatic."

[Reuters]

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