Monday September 07 2009
Mr Roche blasted the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) as responsible for "hate politics", adding that they sprang from a "neo-fascist gene pool".
UKIP's decision to send anti-Lisbon material to every Irish home has already been condemned by fellow anti-treaty campaigners Sinn Fein. But after launching a savage broadside yesterday, Mr Roche is due to debate Lisbon tonight with UKIP leader Nigel Farage.
At the weekend, Mr Farage announced plans to stand down from the leadership of UKIP. But today he will share a platform with Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald -- who criticised UKIP last week -- in arguing for a 'No' vote. Mr Roche and Irish Congress of Trade Unions General Secretary David Begg, will present the 'Yes' case.
Mr Roche said Mr Farage represented "an extremist nationalist party" that has nothing to contribute to political debate in Ireland.
"It represents the type of political extreme that Irish people find repellent," he told the Irish Independent.
"UKIP is drawn from the same political gene pool as the neo-fascist British National Party (BNP) -- in fact both organisations have a shared membership," he said.
Mr Roche said a UKIP 'whistleblower' who made the link known had been unceremoniously expelled from the party.
"UKIP has also drawn members from another extremist organisation, the National Front, and other groups on the right," Mr Roche continued.
"In the past both of these gentlemen urged the repatriation of immigrants from the UK and they didn't exclude Irish migrants from their blanket call to make political capital from migrant misery."
The extent of UKIP's respect for Ireland was best demonstrated last year "when our national flag was used as a table cloth at its celebrations of the Lisbon referendum result in a Brusselspub," Minister Roche added.
"Mr Farage and his fellow travellers in the BNP are entitled to peddle their policies in the UK but it would be preferable if they didn't try to import their brand of hate politics into Ireland."
The very last thing that Ireland needed was extremists from left or right fighting "proxy wars" in the Irish referendum campaign, he said.
UKIP, Coir/Youth Defence, Sinn Fein and the Socialist Workers Party "make for interesting bedfellows, the extremes of the left and the right" in seeking treaty rejection, he said.
Sinn Fein Vice President Mary Lou McDonald said UKIP has "no mandate, no support and no place in Irish politics". Ms McDonald said Mr Farage's party should play no active part in the Irish Lisbon referendum campaign.
"The Lisbon Treaty is about the future of Europe. Sinn Féin welcomes and encourages debate from all countries. We do not object to people from across the EU coming to Ireland and expressing their views, whether for or against," she said.
"But it is another matter entirely for individuals or organisations from other member states to seek to influence the electorate and become active participants in the campaign.
"Nigel Farage's party should play no active part in the Irish Lisbon referendum campaign. We don't want their kind of right wing politics in Ireland and they should stop interfering in what is a matter for Irish citizens in this state," she said.
- Senan Molony Deputy Political Editor