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8 Sep, 2018 15:50

Rebels with a cause? Irexit party calling for Ireland to leave EU launches in Dublin

A new party calling for Ireland to leave the EU launches in Dublin today with a conference discussing the possible benefits of ‘Irexit.’ The Irexit Freedom Party is pushing its agenda despite an apparent lack of public support.

The Irexit movement was born out of a public meeting held in Dublin last February by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, which was attended by 600 people. A Facebook page for the launch of the new party on Saturday shows that only around 90 people are planning to go to the event. However, The Irish Times reports that approximately 250 people have registered for the launch at the Bonnington Hotel, which is dubbed ‘Irexit - Freedom to Prosper.’

The IFP says it plans to run candidates in the European and national elections on a platform that calls for Ireland to leave the EU in order to increase its sovereignty. The founder and spokesperson for the party, Hermann Kelly, told Irish media this week that Ireland no longer benefits from the “cash cow” that the EU once was in the 1970s.

But going forward now, Ireland is a net contributor to the EU, we give them €2.7 billion ($3.1 billion) (gross) per year, the net figure is half a billion,” said Kelly, who is the director of communications for the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group in the European Parliament, a coalition of Euroskeptic parties including UKIP and the Italian Five Star movement.

Kelly told RT that, while support for Irexit is low among the public, as well as among politicians and the Irish media, he believes the party will gain support as they make their case for leaving the EU.

We will be like rebels with a cause, those fighting for freedom… and in electoral terms that is a good position to be in,” he said.

Former Irish ambassador Ray Bassett, who is scheduled to speak at the conference, told RT that the party still wants good economic relations with Europe. He was not involved in establishing the party, but believes that “it’s the political part of the European Union that is scaring people off.”

If Ireland left the European Union, I would still like us to stay in the European Economic Area… which shouldn’t come with a political price that you have to beef up your military, change your tax system and have difficulty holding onto public utilities.”

Bassett conceded that there is a “minor” appetite for Irexit amongst the Irish people, which was confirmed when RT journalists took to the streets of the capital last week. They found an overwhelmingly negative attitude towards leaving the EU. One person pointed out that the benefits of being a member of the EU have been “incredible” for the country, while others said leaving would have a “devastating” and “disastrous” effect on the state.

A post-Brexit poll carried out in May found support for Ireland remaining in the EU jumped to over 90 percent (92 percent) for the first time. The annual survey of Irish attitudes to the EU also indicated growing support for Irish involvement in increased EU defense and security cooperation.

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