A group called Irexit Freedom to Prosper (IFP) has a mission: Get Ireland to leave the EU.
Irexit is Brexit, Irish style. (Éirexit has a better ring to it!) The IFP plans to run candidates in the European elections next year, followed by national election candidates. They had their inaugural AGM in Dublin at the weekend, on Saturday.
The founder is Hermann Kelly, a Derry native based in Brussels, the heart of the EU. At the AGM he stated it was necessary for Ireland to leave the EU ‘so we can take back control over trade policy, money and borders, and be a free country once again’. “We were a free country for a short period after we left the last political union we were in, which was the British Empire,” he said.
He spoke about sea fisheries, trade, immigration and pledged support for a ‘reunited and independent Ireland under the control of the Irish people and not that of either London or Brussels’. The party is also supportive of the Irish language and pro-nationalist.
Other supporters are Ray Kinsella, a UCD Professor of Economics; Paddy Manning, who came to prominence as a gay man who opposed the 2015 same sex marriage referendum; and Ray Bassett, former Irish Ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and The Bahamas.
According to Bassett, “The balance of advantages versus disadvantages of Ireland’s EU membership changes as time goes on … but the advantages are diminishing, especially if there is a no-deal Brexit. Policies in Europe could mean that we’re restricted on the digital companies we have here, on our corporate tax rate, etc. I think the best deal for Ireland would be that we remain in the single market, but leave the customs union.”
He stated that it is the EU that has plans to re-establish the border in Ireland, not Britain. “There won’t be a border along the Irish Sea; even the Labour Party doesn’t agree with that. But the UK isn’t the one that has a plan to establish a border on the island of Ireland – it’s the EU.”
Hermann Kelly highlighted another reality. “In 2011, the Irish Budget was approved in the Bundestag instead of the Dáil. The country was run by the Troika. They decided the economic policy of Ireland.”
He said that Ireland now contributes some €2.7 billion (gross) to the EU per year, with a net figure of almost half a billion. “The relative advantages of being in the EU have decreased, and now that we are a net contributor of €400 million a year to old, drunk men who make our laws I think we’re crazy to stay in.”
Naturally, there are many who think Irexit guys are a band of crazies. People think that all is well with our position in Europe and that any attempt to upset the apple cart is folly of the highest order. Usually, these people are in well-paid jobs and their positions can absorb all that the EU and recent Irish Governments have thrown at citizens.
Private health care protects them from the ongoing health shambles while their decent salaries absorb the myth of ‘free’ education, property tax, universal social charge (introduced ‘temporarily’ but now immovable) and other taxes. For other people all this creates a simmering of discontent. That is how groups like Irexit gain traction.
Banks, bailed out by everyone, still dictate as they throw people on the streets. Meanwhile, the Government does nothing, apart from selling property at a haircut price to vulture funds that sell it back at full price to the Department of Housing. And the Housing Minister and An Taoiseach blame county councils for the homeless problem!
Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran proposed a law designed to protect homeowners facing repossession, but this has been sidelined because the Central Bank and the Department of Finance fear it could threaten banks’ abilities to sell off bad loans to vulture funds and others.
The proposed legislation included provisions for courts to consider the amount owed on an original loan against the cost paid for the loan by a vulture fund. It has been referred to the ECB for an opinion, an unelected body whose decisions impact everybody. Where is the ‘citizen proofing’ of legislation that is necessary in any democracy? Respectfully, to those who dismiss Irexit, it is time to start reading the small print.