Nigel Farage hopeful of Irish 'Eurosceptic' MEPsSaturday 01 March 2014 23.20
Controversial British MEP Nigel Farage has said he is hopeful Eurosceptic candidates will stand for election in Ireland.
Mr Farage has predicted 25% of MEPs elected to the European Parliament in May will be "vehemently Eurosceptic."
The UKIP (UK Independence) leader's comments come just days before the EPP (European People's Party) party conference in Dublin which will be attended by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins warned: “There's a big danger we will end up with a lot of fruit and nut cases.”
Party colleague Mairead McGuinness acknowledged the political landscape has changed since 2009.
She added that: “We are concerned and rightly so, and citizens should also be concerned at the rise of Euroscepticism.”
The Ireland East MEP said mainstream parties in the centre-right and centre-left have worked together to try to resolve the economic crisis and “those who shout loudest are those who reform least.”
In an interview with RTÉ News, Mr Farage said the people of Ireland took unnecessary pain during the bailout for “a currency that you should never have joined” and warned Ireland will find itself in a “United States of Europe.”
The UKIP leader said that when the Troika asked “the pin-up boys of Europe” to jump, “the Irish asked 'how high?”
He questioned if Ireland should remain in the eurozone as “most of your foreign trade is denominated in Sterling or Dollars.”
“Looking ahead 10, 20, or 30 years, is eurozone membership an advantage for your country?"
He said that given that the European share of global GDP is set to halve within the next few years, to less than 10% of the business done in the world, the Irish need a proper debate.”
Socialist MEP Paul Murphy said far-right parties such as Golden Dawn in Greece and more populist groups such as the French National Front will make electoral gains.
But Independent MEP Marian Harkin pointed out that when Eurosceptic MEPs are elected they find it difficult to form a coherent political grouping in the European Parliament.
A debate on the rise of Euroscepticism will feature on European Parliament Report tomorrow night on RTÉ One television.