Éirígí backs Brexit with Northern Ireland poster campaign

Éirígí chairman acknowledges move puts party in same camp as DUP, Ukip and TUV

Irish republican socialist group Éirígí has started erecting Vote Leave posters in the North urging voters to support Britain and Northern Ireland exiting the European Union on June 23rd.

The socialist organisation said its Vote Leave posters had just arrived. “Over the coming weeks we plan to distribute thousands of posters and leaflets throughout the occupied Six Counties,” it said in a statement.

Éirígí's national chairman Brian Leeson acknowledged that supporting Brexit put the party in the same camp as the likes of the DUP, Ukip, the Traditional Unionist Voice party and former Tory lord mayor of London Boris Johnson.

“You can’t choose your bedfellows in these matters,” he said. “There are those on the right and extreme right who want Britain to leave, but we are arguing from an Irish republican position to reassert Irish independence and sovereignty within the island of Ireland and to bring as much power and democracy back to Ireland as possible.”


When asked would Éirígí be sharing platforms with Vote Leave politicians such as Mr Johnson, DUP First Minister Arlene Foster and TUV leader Jim Allister, he responded, "No".

‘Little Englander position’

“They are arguing to leave as well, but that does not mean that we agree with their arguments. They are coming at this from a very Little Englander position, harking after the empire of old when the sun never set on the empire - a day that is long gone,” said Mr Leeson.

“There is also a very significant anti-immigrant element to the way the campaign is being run, and we are arguing for very different reasons,” he added.

“Our core argument is that the Irish people’s needs are best served by full independence and control of our own destiny.

“Obviously partition interferes with the right of the Irish people to control our own destiny - but there is also a massive democratic deficit at the heart of the European Union,” Mr Leeson said.

He said Éirígí also supported Brexit because the EU was "very much anchored in neo-liberal policies such as privatisation and austerity and programmes that have been enforced on countries such as Greece and Spain".

It was also concerned by a “move towards the militarisation” of the EU, he added.

Asked about the Remain argument that Brexit could lead to more rather than less Border controls, Mr Leeson said it was not absolutely clear this would result if the UK were to quit Europe on foot of the referendum.

There were longstanding bilateral arrangements about such matters between the British and Irish governments and it was quite possible these would be activated to ensure this did not happen, he said.

Mr Leeson said there were two states preventing Irish people enjoying 32-county national self-determination. “One is the British state and the other is, essentially, what is the EU state. There is an opportunity here to potentially end one of those external interferences and then we can start working on the other,” he said.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times