Irish MEPs clash with UKIP over 'racist' leaflets

Wed, Sep 16, 2009, 01:00

NO CAMPAIGN:IRISH MEPS have clashed angrily with the UK Independence Party (UKIP) over the British party’s plan to post “racist” leaflets to all Irish homes attacking the Lisbon Treaty.

UKIP confirmed yesterday it had begun posting some 1.5 million leaflets, which should arrive in people’s letterboxes between September 17th and 21st. It also accused Irish MEP Marian Harkin of “hypocrisy” for inviting fellow MEPs to donate funds to the Yes to Lisbon campaign.

“Yet again, the hypocrisy of the Yes side knows no bounds. When someone from outside Ireland who is opposed to the treaty speaks out, then it is foreign interference. But here they are invited to do the same,” said UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who plans a visit to Ireland next week to campaign for a No vote in the referendum.

The UKIP leaflet on the Lisbon Treaty, which is reproduced on the website www.euinfo.ie, alleges Lisbon gives the EU full control of immigration and warns that Turkey’s entry to the EU will lead to more mass migration of cheap labour. It portrays an image of a turkey with a medallion around its neck with the message: “Free movement for 75 million people.”

It also alleges that Lisbon may create an “EU supreme court to overrule our values”, transform Ireland into an “EU province” and damage the economy.

At the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Labour MEP Alan Kelly said UKIP was out of touch when it came to Europe and bordered on insanity if it thought Irish people would listen to them when they canvassed here. “I presume they’ll come over with their imperialist rhetoric. The thought of their smug smiles turns my stomach . . . 700 years was enough,” he said.

Ms Harkin said the image of a turkey in the UKIP leaflet was outrageous and racist. She rejected criticism made by Mr Farage that she was “hypocritical” for inviting fellow MEPs to donate to the Yes campaign.

The criticism from UKIP came after Ms Harkin sent an e-mail to all 736 MEPs asking them to consider contributing to a new campaign group called Europe for Ireland, which has been set up by Irish people in Brussels to lobby for a Yes vote. In the e-mail, Ms Harkin said many people had asked her if they could help in the referendum campaign.

“National referendums are, by definition, an internal national matter, even where, as in this case, the repercussions have an effect across Europe. That being said, Irish people resident in Belgium and indeed all over Europe have set up a Europe for Ireland group to promote a Yes vote to the Lisbon Treaty whatever way it can within the rules,” she added.