Justin Barrett. (National Party)
In November of 2016 a group of endeavouring Irish nationalists announced the formation of a new political party, the National Party. Founded in order to combat what they perceive to be the dangerous trajectory upon which the nation currently sits. It is a party based on the principles of Irish nationalism, conservatism, personal freedom, moralism, and the idea that the people of Ireland should take priority over internationalism, globalism, or any other elitist ideologies.
The National Party bases its foundations on nine principles, which they say define the core goals and beliefs of the party, these are as follows:

  1. A commitment to National Unity.
  2. Belief in a constitutional Republic founded on personal rights and responsibilities.
  3. Nation before State.
  4. Subsidiarity as a principle of government.
  5. An adversarial approach to the EU.
  6. Commitment to Free Productive Enterprise.
  7. Opposition to mass-immigration.
  8. Insistence on the Rights of the Unborn Child.
  9. A complete reform of the criminal justice system.

At the helm of the fledgling National Party is Justin Barrett, a pro-life activist who was a member of the group Youth Defence from 2000 to 2004. However, he left the group because he perceived their methods as being too extreme, and was uncomfortable with their connections to highly unsavoury organisations in Europe. Barrett was criticised for speaking at events in which extreme-right activists were also speaking, although he spoke purely in a pro-life capacity and regrets not being more careful with his attendance of such events, which he describes as “a mistake”. He also points out that of numerous trips abroad to speak in a pro-life capacity, only two such events were also attended by those unsavoury elements.

His other political work includes campaigning against the Nice I and Nice II EU integration treaties, as well as being consistently involved in various political causes and debates over the years. While it seems true that he held more stringently Catholic positions in his youth, time appears to have moderated his views quite considerably. He is a man extremely well versed in Irish history and politics, and also an undeniably fascinating speaker whether you agree with his positions or not.

After speaking at length with Barrett over lunch, it became clear that while he is officially the leader of the National Party, it is not a particularly centralised organisation, with him wanting to give members much organisational freedom. He described his job as simply setting out the party’s principles and inspiring others to believe in them. Beyond that, the party is the realm of its own members, of which it has accrued around a thousand in just a year and continues to rise quickly.

Many in the media have claimed that the party’s membership is mostly derived from legacy politics such as old pro-life campaigns, however this is incorrect. Having spoken to many members of the National Party it is obvious that the youth makes up a majority of its membership. People who are too young to have been involved in previous pro-life campaigns or to have even heard of Justin Barrett beforehand. The average age of a member is probably somewhere in the twenties, and they are also extremely active, hosting various activities every week or two.

The youth seem to have gravitated to the National Party because they are clearly very concerned about the future of our country. They see the disasters that have befallen much of Western Europe and wish to avoid a similar future. They are sick of the stagnant and corrupt establishment politics of Ireland and desire a fresh morally conservative voice that honestly takes their interests into account instead of merely playing for votes. They believe that things can be done differently, that we do not have to be stuck in an infinite loop of governance by Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. They believe that an alternative to save this country is truly possible, and to them the National Party is that alternative.

The National Party is often given the label ‘far-right’ by the mainstream media, and critics have labelled it as authoritarian, however in reality nothing could be further from the truth. Upon analysing the policies and stated aims of the National Party as well as hearing more detail from Barrett himself, it becomes clear that many of their views were once at home in mainstream Irish society and politics a mere twenty years ago. Perhaps even less, given their secular stance on religion, emphasis on government accountability, and liberal views regarding freedom of speech.

In truth the National Party is simply a party of concerned traditional Irish nationalists, with policies ranging from morally conservative to classically liberal positions on individual rights and the economy. In fact in their explanation of the nine principles, they make a point of specifically stating that “The National Party believes strongly in the principle of a Constitutional Republic, founded on individual personal freedoms, rights and responsibilities.” They also confirm their total rejection of and commitment to resist any and all forms of totalitarianism.

A major issue for the National Party is that of abortion, to which they are strongly opposed. They value the 8th amendment as an integral part of the constitution and the protection it provides to the unborn as one of Ireland’s greatest moral assets. With essentially all established Irish political parties having expressed tacit support for the repeal of the 8th amendment (with the exception of Renua), it is a breath of fresh air to see a party that is willing to take a principled stance against abortion. A stance without fear of political ramifications and based on legitimate concern for the wellbeing of the Irish people instead of the usual slimy political manoeuvring with which we are so accustomed to as a nation.

Understandably many will find some of their positions too conservative, such as their opposition to gay marriage. Although from listening to their events and hearing from Barrett himself; it is clear that this is not a particularly important issue for them but simply derives from their traditional understanding of marriage as between one man and one woman. They believe there are far more pressing concerns that need to be addressed in this country instead of minor issues such as that.
As one might expect from the name, the National Party do indeed hold an Irish nationalist view regarding Northern Ireland, believing that the peaceful democratic reunification of the island is something we should consistently work towards – as Ireland consists of the entire island, its peoples and its territorial seas.

Currently both major nominally nationalist parties operating in Northern Ireland are socialist to a varying degree, with Sinn Féin notably endorsing numerous progressive liberal causes and favouring a very open migration policy that could within only a few short years see us suffering similar problems as the UK, France and Sweden. Many members of the National Party are of the opinion that these parties only pay lip service to Irish nationalism and are in fact often socialist ideologues or self-serving globalists masquerading as nationalists.

On the point of immigration, the National Party is stringently opposed to unrestricted immigration, placing much value on our national identity as Irish people and recognising the threat that mass migration poses to a small country such as ourselves. Currently not a single Irish political party has made clear any policies to restrict immigration to Ireland and end the practice of handing out Irish citizenship to near anybody as if it means nothing.

While individual politicians have recognised the problems of mass migration, especially the immense strain it causes on our housing system, no party has formed a clear cut policy addressing these major issues. By having a clear policy on migration, such as them wanting better profiling of Islamic entrants, (something particularly pertinent after the attack by a radical Muslim in Dundalk which the government refuses to properly address) the National Party places itself in an important position to create dialogue on the subject and to be a voice for the many people rightly concerned about immigration.

It is hard to imagine anyone wishing Dublin to suffer a fate such as that of London – in which ethnic British are now a minority in their own capital city and in which crime rates have soared recently largely thanks to uneducated migrants from cultural backgrounds incompatible with western values. It is imperative that we do not allow mass immigration to create no-go-zones or ghettos in which Irish are a minority and suffer under massively increased crime. No government that cares for its people would allow this and currently the National Party is the only party willing to address it properly.

On the economic front the National Party considers free enterprise and opportunity essential for a healthy economy and society. They state that “we endorse the inalienable right to the ownership of Private Property, and shall defend that right against the equally dangerous encroachment of both State Socialism and Monopoly Capitalism.” They are highly critical of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s management of the economy (especially during the 2008 crisis and subsequent events in which Ireland took on around 42% of the EU’s banking debt – around €64 billion), believing that both are mired in corruption and operate at the behest of international interests and the EU, whose monetary concerns they place above the needs of the Irish people.

While the National Party believes that the free market is important for the health and growth of the economy, Justin Barrett made it exceptionally clear that the free markets’ freedom ends when it impinges upon the good of the Irish people and is willing to negatively impact people’s quality of life in order to make more profit. An example of this would be the closing of train lines that once criss-crossed Ireland, bringing great benefits to far off communities – however due to the lack of profit made by them, these lines were shut down. We are beginning to see a similar situation in regards to bus routes, health and education, as the government attempts to privatise and centralise everything around the profitable Dublin region. The National Party is of the view that our taxes are paid to fund these essential services, not to fund the escapades of European bankers and bureaucrats.

The National Party are not inherently against EU membership, and believe that instead of instantly leaving we should attempt to renegotiate our membership for more independence and the return of economic and political freedoms which the EU has placed a stranglehold upon. Justin Barrett is of the opinion that if you can’t leave and can’t print your own currency then you are simply no longer free. Their view of the EU is that it is an undemocratic organisation which is doing immense damage to Ireland and wider Europe, although not one without benefits should it be correctly reformed. Should the EU be unwilling to reform and return autonomy, leaving would be an option for sure.

It is the view of the National Party that our criminal justice system is backwards and entirely inadequate. Their position is that a justice system should exist to protect society, punish offenders and if possible reform them – in that order. In Ireland today they say that we have it backwards, with protection of society coming last in importance, as our justice system hands out totally inadequate sentences to those who commit horrific crimes such as rape and murder. Not to mention that such offenders often serve considerably less than their total sentence and end up on the streets again, without remorse or reform.

The National Party believes that a complete reform is necessary, up to the point of even bringing back the death penalty for particularly heinous crimes such as serial murders or terror – a controversial policy indeed, especially given that mistakes have been made with it in other countries. However when it comes to minor infractions they lean libertarian, suggesting that if something isn’t harming another or the health of society at large then perhaps it should not be illegal.

Many have suggested that they have yet to do anything and that they will simply fade away as so many other new parties have done. However after interacting with many members, attending events and speaking with the party president himself – it seems that they are here to stay, with a quickly growing base among the youth that is extremely active, well intentioned and well versed on the issues of the day.

Ultimately it is true that the National Party has certain controversial policies, but if anything that is a good thing. Irish politics is desperately in need of a fresh perspective and of people to kick-start a debate on the major issues being ignored by the establishment. The people behind the National Party are quite simply Irish Nationalists who worry about the future of our wonderful nation, it is a party of people who could not stay silent as our government and the supranational organisations that it is beholden to tear this country apart. They believe that with the support of the Irish people and enough effort that we can achieve everything our nation needs. It is their promise that any and every policy they enact would be based on the unchangeable nine principles and entirely for the good of the Irish Nation and no other.

It is for these reasons that the National Party has the potential to be an incredibly positive and massively important voice in an Irish political arena that desperately needs an alternative.

Interested in a different take? Read Peter Caddle’s “The National Party: A Waste of Potential?

Posted by Julia Feldman