Nigel Farage, former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), will visit the College Historical Society (Hist) at the start of 2018.
The visit was confirmed following email correspondence between the Auditor of the Hist, Paul Molloy, and Farage. It will take place in January or February of 2018. He will be awarded the society’s Gold Medal.
Speaking to Trinity News, Molloy said: “The Hist is presenting the Gold Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Public Discourse to Nigel Farage for his role as a public figure in and leadership during the Brexit campaign which has resulted in one of the biggest developments in post-war European foreign relations.”
Farage, an MEP since 1999, served as leader of the Eurosceptic, right-wing party UKIP from 2006 to 2009, and again from 2010 until November 2016. He has unsuccessfully contested five British general elections. A leading figure in the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, Farage has been criticised for his anti-immigrant stance. He campaigned widely for Donald J. Trump in the 2016 American presidential elections.
Both the Hist and the University Philosophical Society (Phil), Trinity’s debating societies, have previously courted controversy over right-wing guests. In 2011, the Phil invited the then British National Party leader Nick Griffin to speak in a weekly debate on immigration. Protests and threats to Phil Council members caused the then-President Eoin O’Liathain to withdraw the invitation. An unofficial ban also caused the Hist to withdraw an invitation to historian and Holocaust denier David Irving in 2002, after widespread protests during his visit to the Phil in 1989. In that incident, students blockaded several entrances of campus and Irving was trapped on campus until dawn.
Other guests that will be speaking at the Hist this year include Owen Jones, Jeb Bush and Enda Kenny.