Farage Goes to Dublin to Champion `Irexit' as Protests Await
(Bloomberg) -- Could Ireland follow the U.K. out of the European Union? More than 18 months after helping win the Brexit referendum, Nigel Farage will be in Dublin to advocate just that.
The former U.K. Independence Party leader will speak at Trinity College Dublin on Friday, followed the next day by a conference advocating Ireland leave the bloc. Both events are stirring up controversy.
Neale Richmond, a senator with the ruling Fine Gael party, last month urged the public “not to engage with the conference or the false information being spun by its organizers.” Protests are being organized for his university appearance. Farage declined to comment.
As Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney pointed out in London this week, Ireland’s and the U.K.’s journeys have varied hugely since they joined the European Economic Community, as the EU was known then, at the same time in 1973. While the U.K. is on the way out, support for the EU in Ireland is higher than anywhere else, according to an EU survey published last year.
Still, Ireland has had dalliances with euro-skepticism. Almost a decade ago, voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty, designed to overhaul the bloc’s institutional framework, and finance lecturer Cormac Lucey said the nation should at least think about its ties with the EU.
Lucey is speaking at the Irexit conference on Saturday, though he isn’t involved in organizing the event.
“Because the EU worked so well for Ireland for the last three decades, we presume it will do so for the next three decades,” Lucey, who has called on Ireland to leave the euro currency, said. “I’m not in favor of leaving the EU tomorrow but we need to fundamentally reassess our relationship with it.”
Conference organizers, the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group in the European Parliament, which is led by Farage, are wary about interruptions. Anyone reserving a ticket for the conference, which is free, is warned that it is “open only to supporters of a Irish Exit from the European Union” while “unwelcome interjections from the audience may result in removal from the event.”
“There is a dogma in Irish society about the EU and the reaction to this conference has shown it very clearly,” Lucey said. “We should be able to debate these issues rationally and in the open.”
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