The Historical Society (The Hist) has defended the decision to host Nigel Farage at a society event, following backlash and complaints received by the society.
A statement from the Hist’s general committee regarding the former UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader’s scheduled visit, posted by current auditor and Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) presidential candidate, Paul Molloy, begins: “The Committee would like to address some errors which are being circulated about the event, and also comment regarding the complaints which have been raised about the event generally.”
The committee’s statement went on to clarify several points related to the visit, set to occur this Friday. According to the post on the society’s Facebook group, the Hist is “not providing any speakers fees or Accommodation and travel costs for the event”.
It went on to state that no Hist committee member is not under any obligation to “share or attend the event or compromise their personal beliefs in any way to support it”. Molloy also stated in the post that he has not “pressured any committee member” to do any of the above.
According to the statement, the committee held a “large discussion regarding the event to ensure the event would be conducted in a manner which would facilitate public discourse.”
Farage was invited to address to the Hist before the new year, and the committee was to award one of the main figures in the campaign to for Britain to leave the EU with a gold medal for “Outstanding Contribution to Public Discourse”. However, the event was cancelled and the medal revoked following controversy after the initial announcement.
In the Facebook statement posted today, the Hist committee stated that, due to Farage’s influence in the Brexit result, he has “the right as a public representative to address the house having commanded such support from the electorate and contributed to such an extent in the public debate.”
The statement continued that several figures the Hist has invited to speak in previous years have held “controversial or unorthodox views” but that “without acknowledging and engaging with these individuals and the ideas they hold, falsehood remains consensus and the discussion of ideas breaks down into an echo chamber’.The committee statement added that the Hist “does not believe it is our role to pass judgement on such ideas”.
Pat Leahy, the political editor of the Irish Times will moderate the event on Friday. The Hist has stated that the majority of the event, which is expected to last between 90 minutes to two hours, will be dedicated to questions and answers.