The parliamentary group of the opposition Finns Party has suspended MP James Hirvisaari through mid-September. The reason for the move was a lack of confidence stemming from his refusal to sack his parliamentary aide Helena Eronen.
Eronen caused a furore last week with an article written in her blog on the Uusi Suomi website in which she suggested mandatory armbands for immigrants identifying them as foreigners.
Finns Party chairman Timo Soini said that Tuesday’s decision to suspend Hirvisaari was unanimous.
Hirvisaari wrote in his ownUusi Suomi blog that the he accepts the decision. He also said that sacking his aide would have gone against his sense of justice.
The party’s parliamentary group chairwoman Pirkko Ruohonen-Lerner, who was on a work-related visit to Slovenia on Tuesday, had examined the possibility of having Eronen terminated without Hirvisaari’s consent. However, Pertti Rauhio, Administrative Director of the Finnish Parliament told the Finnish News Agency STT that an MP’s aide can be sacked only if the MP concurs.
The Finns Party MPs attending Tuesday’s group meeting agreed that Soini would be the only one to make statements on the matter. However, Olli Immonen (Finns Party), who was on the same trip as Ruohonen-Lerner, wrote on Facebook that Hirvisaari’s suspension was “an overreaction and wrong”.
Meanwhile, the Southwest Finland Police said on Tuesday that they would not pursue a criminal complaint filed by Helena Eronen against the newspaper Turun Sanomat. Eronen feels that the paper libelled her in an article concerning her blog entry. She has also filed a complaint on the matter with the Council for Mass Media in Finland.
During his suspension Hirvisaari will not be allowed to take part in meetings of the Finns Party parliamentary group, or speak on behalf of the party from the podium. He will nevertheless have full rights to participate in committee work and plenary sessions as before.
Last autumn the party suspended MP Jussi Halla-aho for two weeks over a Facebook entry in which he suggested that Greece could benefit from a military junta.