Irish Freedom Party

The Irish Freedom Party is a minor right-wing[4] hard Eurosceptic[5] political party in the Republic of Ireland, launched on 8 September 2018.[6] It advocates an Irish withdrawal from the European Union.

Irish Freedom Party
PresidentHermann Kelly[1]
ChairpersonDolores Cahill[1]
Founded8 September 2018
HeadquartersKandoy House, Fairview Strand, Dublin 3, Ireland
IdeologyHard Euroscepticism[2]
Right-wing populism
Direct democracy[3]
Political positionRight-wing[4]
Colours     Green,      white and      orange
Website
irishfreedom.ie

The party president is Hermann Kelly, a former teacher and journalist, who was the Director of Communications for Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD).[1] The party chairperson is Professor Dolores Cahill.[1] The party has no representation at local or national level.

HistoryEdit

On 3 February 2018 an 'Irexit' conference was held in the RDS in Dublin, advocating an Irish withdrawal from the European Union. It was attended by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, author and columnist John Waters and academics Anthony Coughlan and Karen Devine.[7] On 8 September 2018, a conference was held in the Bonnington Hotel in Dublin to launch the new party. Independent guest speakers at the launch included former Ambassador of Ireland to Canada Ray Bassett[8] and Professor Ray Kinsella, a UCD economist.[9] Approximately 250 people attended the event.[10]

In early March 2019, a number of regional newspapers reported that a party-member named 'Mairead Donovan' was listed on the organisation's website, and would be running as a candidate for local elections for Kerry County Council.[11] The Ireland edition of The Times later reported that the candidate did not exist, and that the website image was a stock photograph.[12] In responding to these reports, party spokesperson Hermann Kelly acknowledged the mistake and fault in allowing the placeholder profile and stock imagery to be published on the website,[12] and clarified that the group was not planning to run any candidates in local elections.[13]

In late March 2019, the organisation launched a nationwide billboard campaign ahead of the European elections, reportedly funded by members of the party.[14] Sources from the Irish advertising industry estimated that this may have cost up to €40,000. The party did not answer questions from The Irish Times about whether the donations received are in line with Standards in Public Office (SIPO) Commission guidelines. Under those guidelines, a third party must register with the Commission if a donation exceeding €100 is accepted which is directed towards a political purpose. The party had not registered as a third party with SIPO.[15]

Following its launch, the party held several regional public meetings,[16][17] including one in Raheen, County Limerick during which broadcaster George Hook spoke about the "politically correct" Irish media.[18]

The party reportedly "botched their [party registration] application" by failing to "tick its own box" in advance of the European Parliament election. Hermann Kelly admitted their application was rejected because of a mistake made by the party and that it would need to resubmit the form.[19][20] As a result it was not registered as a political party before the deadline for nominations in the 2019 European elections (15 April 2019), and so candidates it had planned to put forward under the Irish Freedom Party name had to list themselves as independents. Hermann Kelly ran in the Dublin constituency, while party chairperson Dolores Cahill ran in the South constituency.[21][22] Neither candidate was elected, with party leader Herman Kelly receiving 2,441 (0.67%) first preference votes,[23] and Cahill receiving 10,582 (1.47%) first preference votes.[24] The party's registration was subsequently completed, and the Irish Freedom Party (IFP) was included on the Register of Political Parties as of 13 June 2019.[25]

The Irish Freedom Party contested its first election as a registered political party in the 2019 Wexford by-election, running Melissa O'Neill, a former member of Sinn Fein who served on Kilkenny County Council from 2014 to 2019. She received 489 (1.2%) first preference votes and was eliminated on the first count.[26][27][28]

Party member Conor Rafferty ran in the Mid Ulster in the 2019 UK General Election, as an independent since the party is unregistered in Northern Ireland, gaining 690 votes (1.5%).[29]

The party fielded 11 candidates in the 2020 Irish general election, with none being elected,[30] and candidates achieving a share of first preference votes between 0.19% (119 votes) and 2.06% (956 votes) in their respective constituencies.[31] Party chairperson Dolores Cahill came second-last in the Tipperary constituency with 0.6% of first preference votes (521 votes).[32]

IdeologyEdit

Aside from advocating an exit from the EU, the party claims to be a "patriotic party" and states it is "pro-natalist and supportive of stable families for procreation".[6]

Some outlets have linked party leader Hermann Kelly with alt-right ideologies, pointing to a video which Kelly recorded with far-right British Loyalist and former British National Party member Jim Dowson.[4] In the video Kelly endorsed the white nationalist "grand replacement" conspiracy theory.[4][33] This followed a similar interview, in January 2019 with LifeSiteNews, in which Kelly denounced what he called the "great replacement of our children".[34]

Election resultsEdit

Dáil ÉireannEdit

Election Seats won ± Position First Pref votes % Government Leader
2020
0 / 160
  10th 5,495 0.3 No seats Hermann Kelly

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d "About Us". Irexit Freedom to Prosper. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  2. ^ McGee, Harry (2 September 2018). "Political party seeking Irish EU exit to be launched". The Irish Times. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  3. ^ "Abhaile". Irexit Freedom to Prosper. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d "Ireland's Alt Right: The people building an empire online". The Business Post. Retrieved 20 September 2019.
  5. ^ McGee, Harry (2 September 2018). "Political party seeking Irish EU exit to be launched". The Irish Times. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  6. ^ a b Tobin, Sharon (8 September 2018). "'Irexit' group seeking to register as political party". RTÉ News. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  7. ^ Carswell, Simon (3 February 2018). "Irexit conference: 'I am hoping something comes of this'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  8. ^ McGreevy, Ronan (8 September 2018). "Irexit party founder says 'dung' from EU 'will help us grow'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  9. ^ Holland, Kitty (8 September 2018). "Irexit Freedom to Prosper to field candidates in European elections". The Irish Times. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  10. ^ Byrne, Luke (1 March 2019). "'If it was racist we wouldn't hold it' - hotel holding Irexit group meeting despite complaints". Irish Independent. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Irexit Freedom announces Mairead Donovan as candidate for Killarney". killarneyadvertiser.ie. Killarney Advertiser. 12 March 2019. Archived from the original on 12 March 2019.
  12. ^ a b "Irexit Group Accused Of Inventing Election Candidate". todayfm.com. Today FM. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  13. ^ "'Irexit' deny sending out fake election candidate to local papers". buzz.ie. Independent Star Limited. 14 March 2019. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  14. ^ "Irexit party launches billboard campaign across Ireland". Irish Examiner. Press Association. 29 March 2019. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  15. ^ Bray, Jennifer (31 March 2019). "Anti-EU party spends €40,000 on billboard campaign, sources estimate". The Irish Times. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  16. ^ "Irexit Athlone Conference". Irexit Freedom to Prosper. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  17. ^ Dennehy, Fergus (9 March 2019). "'Irexit' gathering momentum claim meeting organisers". Irish Independent. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  18. ^ Casey, Jesse (21 March 2019). "Former Newstalk presenter George Hook to front anti-EU event in Limerick". Limerick Leader. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  19. ^ @AarRogan (2 April 2019). "Irexit botched their application to register as a party ahead of the European elections, because they didn't tick a box on the form. Are resubmitting today and hoping it is processed asap "as we have deadlines to meet"" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  20. ^ Rogan, Aaron (2 April 2019). "'Irexit' party fails to tick its own box in road to European elections". The Times Ireland edition.
  21. ^ "Candidates for European Election". Cork City Returning Officer. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  22. ^ "Candidates for European Election". Dublin County Returning Officer. Archived from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  23. ^ "European Election: 24 May 2019, Dublin, European Parliament". electionsireland.org. Elections Ireland. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  24. ^ "European Election: 24 May 2019, South, European Parliament". electionsireland.org. Elections Irelands. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  25. ^ "Register of Political Parties 13 June 2019" (PDF). oireachtas.ie. Oireachtas Service. 13 June 2019. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  26. ^ "Notice of Poll - November 2019". wexfordreturningofficer.com. Wexford Returning Officer. 16 November 2019. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  27. ^ Harrison, Shane (9 November 2017). "'Bullying culture' claims hound Sinn Féin". BBC News. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  28. ^ "Live results from the 2019 By Elections". rte.ie. RTÉ News. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  29. ^ "Mid Ulster Comfortable win for Sinn Fein". irishnews.com. 13 December 2019.
  30. ^ "General Election 2020 - Irish Freedom Party". thejournal.ie. 10 February 2020. Archived from the original on 10 February 2020.
  31. ^ "Election 2020 - Results - Dún Laoghaire". irishtimes.com. Irish Times. 10 February 2020.
  32. ^ "Election 2020 - Results - Tipperary". irishtimes.com. Irish Times. 10 February 2020. Archived from the original on 10 February 2020.
  33. ^ "How the far-right is exploiting immigration concerns in Oughterard". irishtimes.com. Irish Times. 16 October 2019. Retrieved 23 September 2019. "The first thing they want to do is kill Irish kids and [they] want to replace them with every nationality who wants to come into our country," Irish Freedom Party leader Hermann Kelly [..said..] in an interview this year
  34. ^ "Abortion is 'stain' that 'should be removed' – Hermann Kelly". irexitfreedom.ie. Retrieved 4 November 2019. Party media release referring earlier interview in which Kelly states "we must control the quality and number of economic migrants [..] we don't want the brutal demise or 'great replacement' of our children"

External linksEdit