Exclusive Interview with IREXIT Party Leader

Irexit is the term given to Ireland’s potential exit from the European Union, but how do the Irexit Party plan on achieving that? Party Leader Hermann Kelly has provided The Commentator with an exclusive interview

Matt Snape
On 8 April 2019 03:30

With all the media focus on Brexit right now, scant attention is being paid to other rising Eurosceptic movements across Europe. The Eurosceptic movement in the UK started with a handful of people speaking up against Brussels and this small minority grew and grew, until it became the majority on June 26th 2016.

Whilst new parties like the Irish Freedom Party, who want to free Ireland from Brussels’ chains, might be little known now; all great change has to start somewhere. It is even refered to by some supporters as the Irexit Party. Given the British experience, the sky should be the limit for the Irish Freedom Party, which is pro-Irexit. I spoke to their Party leader Hermann Kelly to find out more:


So Hermann, when was the Irish Freedom Party set up?


We officially launched in September 2018 and have over 1200 members from all over Ireland.

Our members are patriots who want Ireland to be a free and independent country outside of the EU. Even though much of Irish Euroscepticism usually comes from the Left, our members come from all sides of the political spectrum. A shared belief in national sovereignty unifies us. 

They are also tired of the stifling political consensus that exists in Ireland on a whole range of issues. We also regularly receive messages of support from all over the world.


How much support are you getting in the polls now?


At the moment, we are in the process of registering the party with the authorities in Ireland. We registered under the name the Irish Freedom Party. So, when we officially register, we will be featured in opinion polls.

We have a unique appeal as the only party who believe Ireland should be free from the chains of EU control.

We have new enthusiastic members joining every day who are determined to help build an Ireland that is independent, sovereign and united.


What inspired the Irish Freedom Party to come together?


I brought together several people from different backgrounds. We all felt that the current political establishment no longer represented the views of people who were Eurosceptic in their outloo

There are many different parties in Ireland, but they do not offer Irish people much of a choice. They have largely the same views on everything from EU membership to taxation to social issues. 

Our party want to give the Irish people a proper choice and a patriotic alternative. Irexit Freedom will smash the groupthink in our political culture.


Which elections are you hoping to make a difference in?


Our initial focus will be on the European elections in May. Right across Europe, Eurosceptic and populist parties are expected to make gains. It could totally change the direction of the EU and paralyse further European integration. Parties like Vox in Spain and, more recently, the Forum for Democracy in the Netherlands are fine examples of new parties with the right message who have made an instant impression.

Ireland has a high level of pro-EU sentiment right now so it will probably take us longer to break through. But we have some outstanding candidates for the European elections, and we are confident we can do very well. 


How hard, or easy, do you think it’s going to be to persuade people to support a pro-Irexit party when Irish politics has been dominated by Fine Gael/Fianna Fail since 1922, and they support EU membership? 


Our immediate battle is not with Brussels, but with the political establishment here in Ireland dominated by the troika consisting of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein. For decades they have surrendered Irish sovereignty to Brussels and betrayed those who fought and died for that cause.

Remember, Irish history is dominated by our struggle to be an independent and self-governing nation. Unfortunately, we have just swapped the British empire for the EU empire and, historically, empires do not have a good record of success.

Once the Irish people reject the current political elite, our path to Ieaving the EU gets much clearer. The situation in the UK has taught us several things.  You need to get rid of the Europhile political class first. Because even if you vote to leave the European Union, the establishment will conspire to keep you in the union.  It has also taught us that they have a contempt for ordinary voters and democracy itself. They forget that they are here to serve the people. Not the other way around. 


What makes you a supporter of Irexit?


We believe the nation state is the best platform to run your affairs and secure the rights of people.  The nation state is probably one of the best inventions of all time.  It is more democratic and accountable to the people.  It gives people a sense of pride and commonality. It is the best guarantor of national sovereignty and economic prosperity. 

Whereas the EU is a supranational organisation hostile to the interests of smaller member states.  It is dominated by France and Germany. Contrary to popular myth, the EU has a history of treating Ireland badly. It dumped 64BN worth of banking debt on a small nation like ours at the height of the banking crisis.  Ireland is now the third most indebted country in the world per capita. 

When Ireland rejected the Nice and Lisbon Treaty, the EU made us vote again. Brussels have our tax sovereignty in their sights now, which is such a crucial part of our economic policy. Any moves to undermine our tax sovereignty could devastate the Irish economy and our ability to attract investment into Ireland. 

Our long-standing neutrality has been destroyed through PESCO and an EU army is fully on the cards. We want Ireland to regain full control over our laws, budget and borders. It is perfectly possible to cooperate with countries in Europe and around the world outside of a political union.  Indeed, that is the normal way of international interaction and diplomacy. We want to govern alone but be friends and trade with all.  


And a fun question or personal question- who’s your biggest inspiration in Irish politics?


None of the current lot in Irish politics would inspire me. 

From the academic world, Professor Anthony Coughlan has long been an inspiration to me. For over 50 years, he has fought a lonely battle against Ireland's involvement with the European project. He holds dear the values and principles of the party- that Irish affairs are best looked after by Irish people and that Irish freedom and independence is worth fighting for. 


Matt Snape is a freelance journalist whose stories have been featured in numerous national, local and specialist publications


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