*Michael Leahy. Photograph: John Mangan

LOCAL GROUPS in Clare have been guilty of “stirring up division” through their commentary on the far-right, a former General Election candidate has said.

Corofin’s Michael Leahy is Chairman of the Irish Freedom Party (IFP), a political party formed in September 2018 which have been described as minor right-wing to far-right hard Eurosceptic.

He said references to the party as far right in mainstream media has not been defined “but it is clear that the name is intended to imply something rather unpleasant”. Speaking to The Clare Echo, he argued that IFP’s policies would have been supported by most political parties in Ireland up until ten years ago, “I think if you use far-right, you have to use the term far in respect to what and where is the centre. I don’t regard us as far from anything”.

Clare PPN who were critical of the presence of “far-right agitators” such as Dublin based Graham Carey at a public meeting in Shannon a fortnight ago to discuss plans to house refugees in the Industrial Estate annoyed from the Ennis architect and planner. “I think when people are immediately tarred as agitators, extremists or racists is wrong. He (Graham Carey), is not a member of our party I can assure you, I would not approve of his advocating violence”.

Leahy said, “is it not fair to question whether it is such quangos as the Clare PPN which are guilty of stirring up division and treating local people who are concerned for the protection of their own communities as extremists. There are too many government-funded agencies within this country that promote an ideology of intolerance and contempt for the Irish people and their historic nation and who try to enforce an open-doors immigration policy on this country regardless of our specific employment needs”.

Michael stressed that the IFP “has at all times advocated for a sane and humane policy of emigration which provides protection for persons fleeing war or disturbance. We also however advocate that this protection should be temporary and that people should be facilitated in returning home once circumstances have changed in their own countries”.

He said they were not opposed to people fleeing war arriving in Ireland. “We are not against that, we have an obligation to help those fleeing from war but it needs to be made clear that this is a temporary measure and when matters clear up in their own country they can return to their country of origin”.

He continued, “Our main objection to the present policies as they are operated by government is that no serious efforts are being made to verify the bona fide is of those who seek international protection or who claim to be fleeing the war in Ukraine”.

Government are only claiming to have an international obligation “to take in those seeking international protection”, the Kerry native added. “There is no point in having an open door immigration policy without any cap on the numbers coming in unless one is capable of providing for those persons. The argument, often made, that we should simply provide more services to sustain a massive increase in population in a single year is not feasible. No government can plan adequately for so substantial an increase in population in so short a period of time.

“Given the political paralysis which affects this country, this massive influx of persons is likely to continue for several years. This will inevitably have a destabilising effect on the native population and will cause a drastic deterioration in services available to existing people,” he added.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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