UKIP leader Nigel Farage has entered into a bitter row with Ireland’s deputy prime minister, accusing him of resorting to “petty insults” as the two traded views on the European Union.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore launched an attack on the outspoken British politician this week after Farage predicted a surge in Irish Euro-scepticism due to the country’s painful bailout.
The Labour leader said it is a growth in jobs, not anti-EU sentiment, that Ireland needs to see.
“I think growth in that kind of negative politics, that kind of small-minded anti-Europeanism, does not get us anywhere,” he added.
“I certainly hope that we do not follow that particular drum. That drum will lead the UK into a cul-de-sac and will lead Europe into a cul-de-sac if we were to follow it.”
Mr Farage, whose UKIP party campaigns for Britain to leave the EU, had said he hoped to see Irish eurosceptics provoke debate about the 28-member bloc by standing in May’s European elections.
He also claimed the Irish people suffered unnecessary pain during the bailout. When the Troika asked “the pin-up boys of Europe” to jump, he added, “the Irish asked ‘how high?’”
Bur Mr Gilmore warned that Europe had been good for Ireland and stood by it during the financial crisis.
Following the Tánaiste’s comments, Mr Farage said he hoped the Irish electorate would “send a message” to the establishment in the European elections.
“This will be their first opportunity to voice their opinion directly on the EU project since they were made to vote again on Lisbon,” he explained.
"I am sure Irish MPs committed to ever closer union inside the EU are scared which is why they are resorting to petty insults.
"By contrast, anti-EU parties are out there taking their message of independence and democracy to the people right across Europe."