Brexit and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign were broadly viewed as a sort of populist uprising against the political establishment.
Since Britain voted to leave the EU, Eurosceptic parties have sprung up across Europe. In Ireland, little had been heard from the far right until an Irexit event earlier this month.
Over 600 people gathered in RDS for the ‘Irexit: Freedom to Prosper’ conference with Nigel Farage, former UKIP leader, the main speaker.
The conference examined the possibilities presented by an ‘Irexit’ and showed that there is some public appetite for an exit from the EU like in Britain.
Farage argued that Ireland had “paid a very big price” for its membership of the EU.
DCU student, Luke O’Connor attended the event and identifies as an economic nationalist, an ideology adopted by Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist.
Speaking to The College View, the media and politics student said, “Following the conference, the grassroots have connected on social media and we’re well established.”
Arguing that the EU has “killed democracy” on the continent, he hopes that Eurosceptics can form a party or run independent candidates in the European elections in 2019.
“If you can get people like Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan elected in this country, there’s surely a place for a coordinated group of Eurosceptics,” he said.
The student and self-confessed “big Trump guy” claims people in certain areas of Ireland have been left behind because of the EU.
“People in telecommunications and fisheries, their jobs are gone and have been replaced by higher class jobs. It’s the effects of globalisation,” he said.
While the conference received a positive reception by those in attendance, Irexiters may have a challenge on their hands.
A survey carried out by the European Commission last year found that, out of all EU nations, Ireland was the most positive about membership of the union.
Dr. Eoin O’Malley, Associate Professor of political science at DCU doesn’t foresee Irexit becoming the next political movement in this country.
“It would be madness. Ireland tried isolating itself and tying itself to the British economy in the past, and that ended spectacularly badly” he said.
Image Credit: Irish Times