Roche attacks UK Independence Party’s comments on result

EUROPEAN Affairs Minister Dick Roche lambasted the UK Independence Party [UKIP] after it suggested the Irish electorate had been “bullied” into voting Yes.

UKIP’s Nigel Farage insisted the referendum had not been “free and fair” and compared it to corrupt elections in Zimbabwe.

He went on to claim that Ireland was in danger of losing its independence because of the Yes vote.

Speaking of the treaty’s defeat in the first referendum last year, he said: “But of course the vote wasn’t respected. You were made to vote again and what we’ve seen this time is a decisive victory for the bully boys, the big money men and the bureaucrats.”

Everyone from European Commission president José Manuel Barroso had warned the electorate that “terrible things would happen” to them if they voted No, Mr Farage claimed.

“And so out of fear, a small country has been bullied into changing its mind,” he said.

“There are many people who have been forced into changing their minds who will regret this and regret it bitterly, and I hope it’s not the case, but I fear that you’ll look back in Ireland on this day and you’ll realise that it marked the beginning of the end of your relatively brief period of independence as a nation.”

But Mr Roche hammered Mr Farage in response, saying the UKIP politician had no understanding of the Irish psyche.

“We’re not a people that are easily bullied, and we’re not a people to be pushed around,” Mr Roche said. “Our history is one that when people push against us, we push back.

“This is the Irish people making a firm and self-confident decision to vote in our interests and to make certain that we weren’t in fact hijacked by anybody else’s wars,” Mr Roche added.

This was a reference to the Eurosceptic UKIP’s wishes to see Britain withdrawing from the EU. It was why UKIP urged a No vote in the referendum, hoping to bring down the Lisbon Treaty and damage the EU project.

Mr Roche said that UKIP’s intervention in the referendum was one of the best things that could have happened for the Yes campaign.

“It was hugely beneficial because people were asking: ‘What in the name of God is UKIP doing in this country telling us what to do?’”

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