Far-right party’s ‘opportunistic’ launch in Merrion Hotel called off

The planned launch of a far-right party has been cancelled after Dublin’s Merrion Hotel pulled the plug on the event timed by organisers to capitalise on the election of Donald Trump.
Far-right party’s ‘opportunistic’ launch in Merrion Hotel called off

The National Party has an anti-immigrant, anti-Europe and anti-abortion agenda. Its president Justin Barrett, a far-right campaigner, has previously spoken at neo-Nazi events.

Merrion Hotel manager Garrett Power said the event was not taking place today. A spokeswoman for the hotel confirmed the event was cancelled but would not say why. The cancellation came after a backlash online from the public, politicians, and business figures.

James Reynolds, the party’s deputy president, told the Irish Examiner Mr Barrett would instead give interviews today. The party was registered in August, he said, adding “we had meetings around the country, which were well attended”.

He did not disagree the event was happening on the back of Mr Trump’s election as president of the US. “We chose at the opportunistic time to have a press conference.”

Mr Reynolds is current national treasurer of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association. He said his role with the party was separate. The ICSFA’s spokeswoman said it would have a board meeting tomorrow at which Mr Reynolds association with the farming group would be discussed.

Mr Reynolds said he would be “surprised” if the board arranged this without his knowledge. Mr Reynolds, former IFA chairman in Longford, said he met Mr Barrett years ago. “I have similar views as him, including opposition to abortion, to a federalist Europe, and to unrestrained immigration.”

Mr Reynolds formerly campaigned for a No vote in the Lisbon Treaty while Mr Barrett was previously involved in the No to Nice campaign, with Youth Defence and with the Mother and Child campaign.

The National Party’s media invite had said Ireland “should have one political party to represent the true spirit of the Republic proclaimed so gallantly” during the 1916 Rising. The group highlighted concerns it said included a “dictatorial Federal European Union”, an “unrestricted policy of immigration”, and the desire by some to “remove the equal right to life of the unborn child”. The party would “speak for the great silent majority who have seen the beginnings of ‘multi-culturalism’ with growing dismay.”

Barrett profile

- Juno McEnroe

Justin Barrett’s involvement with extremist or right-wing groups has been well flagged. He came to prominence with his involvement with pro-life group Youth Defence.

Born in Cork, he was adopted at a young age and moved with his family to North Tipperary. He studied at Athlone RTC, where he first got involved in politics. He got involved in a group called Youth Defence, which was set up by pro-life campaigners in protest at the X case in the early 1990s.

When the Nice Treaty referendum came before Irish voters, Mr Barrett decided to run a no campaign in 2001. He later was involved in the Mother and Child campaign, which opposed a government amendment on abortion.

A video of Mr Barrett attending a neo-Nazi rally in Germany emerged before he was invited as a guest of honour to the extreme right wing National Democratic Party event in May 2000, which had skinheads, brown shirts, and elderly Nazi heroes.

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