A LARGE number of those who have joined the EDL are second generation Irish, the controversial far-right group has claimed.
English Defence League leader Stephen Lennon, who we revealed is the son of a Dublin woman, says they have no problem with the Irish in Britain “as long as they have integrated”.
He also claimed that a large number of those who joined the EDL when it was set up in Luton in 2009 were second generation Irish.
And he added that the EDL would only target Irish community groups in Britain if they used “IRA slogans” or sang “IRA songs”.
Speaking to The Irish Post, Lennon, who leads the unpopular far-right group under the pseudonym Tommy Robinson, said he feels “no connection” to Ireland.
He added that he has never set foot in the country despite it being his mother’s birthplace and the home of most of her family.
“My mum is Irish and all of her family are Irish. I do not hate the Irish, but I am not Irish. I take pride in England, the country that is my home. I do not feel any connection to Ireland at all. I have never even been there,” he said.
The EDL leader defended anti-Irish comments he posted on Twitter saying that if his mother, who was born in Dublin, had not come to England, she would be “in Ireland picking potatoes and eating cabbage”.
“Part of Irish heritage is being able to have a laugh, hence my mum picking potatoes and boiling cabbage,” he said.
Two weeks ago more than 1,000 EDL supporters took to the streets of London under tight police security to protest following the killing in Woolwich of Drummer Lee Rigby.
A total of 13 arrests were made for offences ranging from racially aggravated criminal damage to violent disorder as far-right and anti-fascist protesters clashed.
However fears that tensions would spill into last month’s Ireland v England game were unfounded.
Lennon defended comments he tweeted to his then-6,000 followers about taking on “plastic paddies” by bringing a “tidy mob” to the friendly international.
The 30-year-old claimed it was “banter” with a friend and said he was not even at the football match. “It was just me having a bit of banter with my friend, who is Irish and English,” he said.
“In hindsight I might be a bit more careful in how a lot of people are watching and the way it could be taken.”
“But I will always shout No Surrender during the national anthem,” Lennon added, saying he would have defied pleas to fans from the FA and England manager Roy Hodgson not to sing the anti-Catholic hate song despite being a Catholic himself
“I am not politically correct and I do not care about political correctness,” he said. “It (No Surrender) is part of the English history. It is the most famous motto in this country. And it is the motto we live by and die by.
“When I sing No Surrender I am thinking of no surrender to the Taliban. I am thinking of no surrender to militant Islam. And when we were at war with the IRA I would have been singing 'No Surrender to the IRA'. There is no Irish person I know who would be offended if I sing No Surrender during the national anthem.”