The leader of the Irish Freedom Party has distanced himself from a far-right German judge accused of being part of a coup to overthrow the Berlin government.
Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, who until last year was a member of the Bundestag representing the anti-EU and anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, was one of 25 people arrested for allegedly planning a coup and replacing the government with a monarchy.
The Berlin-based judge was reportedly tipped to act as the minister of justice in the post-coup government which would be led by Heinrich XIII Prinz Reuss zu Köstritz, a 71-year-old property magnate and wine dealer from an aristocratic family.
All those arrested are suspected members of the Reichsbürger movement, a loose alliance of neo-Nazis and conspiracy theorists who deny the legitimacy of the modern German state.
In August 2020, Ms Malsack-Winkemann travelled to Ireland to address a meeting of the Irish Freedom Party where she spoke alongside the party’s president, Hermann Kelly, and Dolores Cahill. Ms Cahill was the party’s chairperson until last year when she was asked to resign after spreading misinformation about Covid-19.
About the time of the meeting, Mr Kelly also showed Ms Malsack-Winkemann around local sights. A tweet from Mr Kelly from that time states he showed an AFD MP the Celtic High Crosses in Monasterboice. Another image posted to social media shows him standing outside a pub with Ms Malsack-Winkemann and her daughter.
The image was posted on the IFP’s Twitter feed on August 9th, 2020, before being deleted on Thursday. Later on Thursday, after Mr Kelly was asked about the deletion, it was reposted on his personal account.
In May 2021, Mr Kelly took part in a two-hour discussion, which was broadcast online, with Ms Malsack-Winkemann and another AFD Bundestag member, Norbert Kleinwächter. They discussed opposition to Covid lockdown measures and arguments in favour of leaving the European Union.
Mr Kelly said on Thursday his party “rejects any form of nazism and nuttery” and that it will wait to see if the allegations against Ms Malsack-Winkemann “are borne out by evidence”.
“I’m always happy to discuss personal freedom and national sovereignty with elected members of the German Bundestag,” Mr Kelly told The Irish Times, adding he has talked about various issues with MPs from the AFD party including “carbon tax and climate alarmism”.
“What happens in the federal German parliament is important. It’s incredible, for example, that the Irish budget was seen and approved in a Bundestag committee in 2011 before it was passed in Dáil Éireann,” he said.
Ms Malsack-Winkemann (58) was arrested at her apartment in the Wannsee district of Berlin on Wednesday morning.
After leaving the Bundestag last year she returned to her role as a circuit court judge in the German capital after a disciplinary tribunal ruled her anti-immigration comments did not disqualify her from the post.
German prosecutors say the alleged coup plotters believe a “conglomerate of conspiracy myths”, including the baseless QAnon movement’s claims of child abuse networks operating among US political and entertainment circles.
This has taken root in the Reichsbürger movement, whose 21,000 followers reject the legitimacy of the state and often refuse to pay taxes.
In one tapped phone conversation, one of the ringleaders reportedly said: “We’re going to wipe them out now, the time for fun is over.”