“Stop the EU/US Corporate Takeover, Demand a Referendum!” these are written in a bold typeface on an anti-EU pamphlet that invites Cork residents to gather every Tuesday afternoon at No.99, Douglas Street. This is the address to the office of Diarmaid O’Cadhla. He is in his late 50’s, but gets excited as a young man when talking about his visions for his country. O’Cadhla has numerous plans for the future of Ireland, but leaving the EU is the first in his list of priorities.
Why an Irexit?
As the time for the final goodbye of Britain to the European Union approaches, activists like O’Cadhla try to unify their compatriots, in pressuring the government for a referendum that can get Ireland out of the European Union. They demand an Irexit: an Irish version of the Brexit that would put an end to an almost 44 years old EU membership. In O’Cadhla’s words:“British people are dead right to assert themselves and we should assert ourselves in a similar manner.”
On the back of O’Cadhla’s yellow vest, one can read the number: 1916. This is the year that Ireland revolted against British rule, something O’Cadhla is most certainly proud of. He is not reluctant to condemn Britain and expresses his disinterest in Ireland’s dependency to this country, but why does he want his country out of the EU, a move that might enforce their ties with the United Kingdom? “It is entirely logical for us to have a relationship with the UK, but we should have proper “trading relationship”, and one of “equality”, which hasn’t been in the past.”
However, O’Cadhla believes that Ireland can get on fine even without any significant trading relationship with the United Kingdom. Even though food and drink industry does account for 7.6% of Irish economy, O’Cadhla has confidence that this is sufficient to take care of all the economic needs of the country. “If the Germans don’t want our fish or beef, fine, the Chinese and Russians will buy it.”
The supposedly huge reservoirs of gas and oil in the Irish waters is another resource that has been pointed out before. O’Cadhla also believes there are “massive quantities of unexplored gas and oil” laid on the grounds of Irish waters, part of which has been discovered and pumped, a wealth he deems Ireland gets nothing from, as long as they are sharing everything with the European Union.
While so many believe that the impact of economic recession on Ireland’s economy has been so severe that it cannot tolerate another economic instability , such as the initial and potential consequences of an Irexit; O’Cadhla believes that such move is not going to create a massive economic crash. He describes Ireland’s EU membership one of the outer layers of many layers of problems in Ireland, which should be “getting rid of”, as soon as possible.
The presence of many corporations and multinational companies in Ireland is another issue that people like O’Cadhla believe that the EU membership has brought on. According to him “All these multi nationals came in and they are only offering short-term jobs with low wages.” Like most Cork citizens who gather together every Tuesday at his office to discuss an Irexit referendum, he thinks that multinational corporations in Ireland “have destroyed the local industry”, in this country.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has repeatedly assured Ireland’s European allies that Ireland would not “terminate their 40 years old EU membership” but O’Cadhla believes that Mr. Kenny will change his mind.” The economic reality of the country will force him to do so”.
Do All Irish People Support an Irexit?
However, the numbers coming from the most recent polls show that 70 percent of Irish citizens are not supporting a referendum on such issue. Mr.O’Cadhla is not denying this fact, but believes that this will change and more people would agree with him and his supporters in the coming years.
Meanwhile, him and his group of supporters try to do everything in their capacity, from weekly meetings, to setting up information stalls every weekend, to attract more supporters for their anti establishment cause. “We get mixed reactions from people, some people think we are mad but I think an increasing number of people appreciate it,” says the former general election nominee.
The revolt against what has been tested and used, has been observed in form of Brexit, Trump’s presidency in the United States, and the potential rise of far right in France, will Ireland be the next in this anti-establishment domino effect or not? O’Cadhla believes that since the “population of Britain shocked the world by voting in favour of Brexit and Americans did so by electing Trump” an Irexit cannot be an outlandish concept.