Monday, 1 April 2013

Direct Democracy Ireland – who are they?

 FOLLOWING the Meath East by-election which saw Ben Gilroy garner 6.5% of the vote to come in fourth, ahead of Labour, there has been much discussion of Gilroy and his party, Direct Democracy Ireland. But what exactly do we know about them?

Gilroy first came to prominence in early 2012 when a video was posted online showing a group of protesters halt an eviction of a man who had failed to pay his mortgage near Mountrath, Laois. In the clip Gilroy makes numerous references to 'common law' in a twenty minute row with the deputy sheriff. Gilroy subsequently claimed it was the consitution which halted the eviction of Lee Wellstead. In reality it was the fact that there was a crowd of angry people on his property opposing the eviction which halted it. Shortly after the video appeared, barrister Fergal Crehan noted: “The most vocal of the activists [Ben Gilroy] subjected him to a lecture in law which would sound suspect to the ears of any first year law student, let alone a practicing lawyer. The important thing to note from the video is that the deputy sheriff left in frustration, not because he was legally outfoxed. The court order stands, the sheriff will be back, the house will be repossessed.” That is exactly what happened, and less than a month later Wellstead was evicted from his home. Crehan went on to note: "All of this is evidence of the increasing prominence of a fringe conspiracy theory known as the “Freeman On The Land”."

The language, conspiracy theory-esque phrases and tactics used throughout the video clip are not dissimilar from those used by the Freemen on the Land movement. This movement rejects statute law claiming it must be contractual and because they have not consented to it, it does not apply to them. In April 2012 the Law Society of Ireland noted that: The methods he [Ben Gilroy] used are common strategies of a group known as the Freemen on the Land.”.

When the alleged links to the Freemen was put to him on Prime Time on 28 March he rejected the allegations as “nonsense”. He also rejected the allegations on Twitter, however,  he did concede that much of what he says is exactly what they say. "Fair enough. I also speak French occasionally. I can assure you I am still Irish though," he said. However in response, a poster noted: "French isn't a belief system. I think it's a reasonable question for someone running for public office."

This rejection did not go down well on many Freemen websites which had viewed him as a poster boy for their movement. Despite claiming he didn't know “where people get that from” [links to the Freemen movement] he has previously done interviews for Freemen websites such as 'Scottish Soveriegn on the Land' in September and Open Your Mind Radio in August, a station which distributes the Freeman Guide to Ireland. This publication contains many of the strategies and arguments which Gilroy has employed in the past. Some of his (and his other group - People for Economic Justice), outlandish claims come straight from this guidebook including allegations that if a court document is “not signed in blue ink... it is totally invalid, and grants no power what so ever”. This is, of course, absolute nonsense.

The logo of the Direct Democracy party is also very similar to the logo used by the Freemen Movement in Ireland (see below) while the "Freeman Ireland" and “Freemen of Waterford” websites openly supported Gilroy during the election and called on people to vote for him.

DDI uses similar language and imagery to Freemen organisations in Ireland
His links to the Freemen also saw Ben send out a tweet to encourage people to attend the “Turning of the Sovereign Seal” event in the Mansion House which took place on the 21 January. The rather bizarre ceremony was conducted by Billy Maguire, a man who claims to be the president – ironically in a hereditary capacity - of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (a group which has not existed in almost 90 years) It is claimed the annual event gives validity to the Irish Republic, the Dáil, courts and all licenses. In reality it is an eccentric and nonsensical event supported by conspiracy theorists, Freemen and others with an unhealthy infatuation with seals, logos and symbols.

Ben has previously identified as 'pro-life' but stated this was “irrelevant” because the people of Meath East would tell him how to vote on the issue of abortion. Several days before the election he was asked on Twitter whether DDI supported legislation for the X Case and Marriage Equality for same sex couples. Gilroy responded saying “DDI does not believe that a group sitting around a table have the right to decide what is best for 4.5million people” and instead noted it should be decided by referendums. Fair enough, except we already had a referendum on the X Case. The people voted Yes. When this was put to him he dodged the question and did not answer. One would expect that DDI to recognise the will of the people on this issue, but apparently not

People for Economic Justice and Gilroy himself have also spoken at rallies in Cavan in support of disgraced businessman Seán Quinn. Although any reference to this seems to have been scrubbed from the PEJ and DDI websites in advance of the by-election. The collapse of the Quinn Group has left householders paying back the €1.65billion used to bail out the group for decades. These are the same householders who Gilroy claims to stand alongside.

Something that also needs to be addressed is that the direct democracy system has a long association with the far-right and racists as it can be used to discriminate against immigrants or minorities. Therefore it is no surprise that this system is one often touted by the right-wing UK Independence Party (UKIP). Ben Gilroy has previously told followers that he has “limitless time” for UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

All of this raises serious questions about DDI and just who they are.

Also note how he was happy to put this [below] word-for-word Freeman nonsense on his own door (Source: People for Economic Justice - Home of Ben Gilroy)

Freemen refer to themselves as "John of the family Smith" as they believe that when a birth certificate is produced it creates a legal person seperate from their body (Loopy, I know) and that this is the entity which is subject to statutory law. In this case Gilroy has  made a distinction between his physical self "Ben of the ancient clan Giolla Rua (Sovereign)" and what he considers his legal self, Ben Gilroy, which he denotes with a TM!

Unfortunately it appears that DDI are less about direct democracy and more about using discredited and silly Freemen-on-the-Land pseudolaw to give false hope to very desperate people.


  1. (the Turning of the Seal)..." an eccentric and nonsensical event supported by conspiracy theorists, Freemen and others with an unhealthy infatuation with seals, logos and symbols." took place in the Mansion House, was attended by the Lord Mayor (wearing his chain of office!!! ... logos / symbols anyone???), and the Lord Mayor took part by reading the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

    1. Because the Mayor allowed them to use a room in the Mansion House doesn't make it any less ridiculous.

      Furthermore, I note you state your occupation as "Sovereign Man" (Freeman), hmmm....

    2. The truth goes through 3 stages. your at stage one mark. (ridicule). stage 2 is violent opposition. stage 3 is acceptance as self evident. your hit piece is exactly that. a hit piece. p.s i'm not a freeman. none of us are. p.s I see on facebook your were offered an interview on if you beleive you are right you should do the interview and stop hiding behind a blog page

    3. I don't see how this is ridicule mikdefish. It's all backed up by links etc. And trust me the only violent opposition this lot will have will be people laughing them off their porches.

      "I'm not a freeman. None of us are" - Is that you're way of saying you are a member of DDI?

      Interesting that Ben has an account on that Freeman Radio site alright:

    4. Im not a member of DDI although i am a member of tns. have been for a long time. I myself have not put into practice any freemen concepts but have as a radio host myself looked into a lot of this stuff and as yet have been unable to disprove anything the freeman movement if you will say about statute law..

  2. I would welcome the author of this blog on for an interview/discussion regarding the contents of same. Seeking Solutions ... (We too, just in case you didn't know, also interviewed Ben Gilroy on many occasions) ;-)

    Contact details

    Skype : vincenttemp1
    Phone : +353 1 44 333 09

  3. For those readers who are wondering about this, TNS radio is the radio station of the Tír na Saor freeman movement in Ireland. Strange that if DDI and Ben aren't freemen though, that all of these individuals should spring out of the woodwork to his defence.

    They "interviewed" Ben Gilroy in the sense that they gave him a regular platform (albeit a tiny online radio station platform) to speak his views without any difficult questions whatsoever.

    As for their response, it really doesn't address any of the facts in this piece, just tries to deny that stations which host the Freemen Guide to Ireland and a station in Scotland which is actually called "Scottish Sovereign on the Land" are not Freeman on the Land sites.

    Haha, thanks for the chuckle.


    2. Resorting to abuse? How grown-up of you Lyn.

      Tell me what exactly you are accusing me of "lying" about?

      After all accusing someone of lying or of being a liar is a very serious libel matter.

      You might be closer than you think in getting to try out your Freemen 'common law' defence in court!

    3. Also Lyn, what do I "deserve" for highlighting the nonsense of this conspiracy theory-style group exactly?

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Karl, was your own piece that got me interested in looking into them. I was contacted by a newspaper today regarding the piece, they also mentioned your article, think they are going to do a feature on DDI.

  5. Well done Mark. Attack the tax (telling people they don't lawfully have to pay the property tax) is also linked, worth a gander at. You can find them on Facebook. I asked them a few questions and they resorted to abuse and threats, then blocked me from their page and deleted the evidence. I was abused and threatened by private mail.

  6. FYI - I've found some 'interesting' material on the Tír na Saor and DDI websites -

  7. To the author of this blog, you fail completely to mention the methodology of the Direct Democracy (DD) system!!

    In practice it has nothing to do with any single individual or groups beliefs that advocates DD's (i.e freemen-ism or right wing , left wing etc)
    Like Mr Gilroy is saying - "you let the people decide" Even if Mr Gilroy did have racists links (is does not) his personal beliefs would not matter in a system based on devolved democracy????

    This is crowd sourced democracy, just like crowd sourced knowledge, or crowd sourced funding/KickStarter etc....this is based on modern decide ...not Ben Gilroy or any one Direct democracy advocate.

    It's quite obvious that your not getting 'it' ...are you?

    - you might want to research other direct democracy/parallel democracy models through out history. see Switzerland, Iceland,
    Also read up on what direct democracy in Iceland.

    Also ..very relevent is

    Have a read and please enlighten me on if you still think its all to do with freemen, and racism??

    1. Simply not true. Gilroy clearly doesn't even believe in direct democracy. If he did he would have answered that he supported legislation on X (as a we had a referendum on it) instead he dodged the question.

      I never allege he has links to racist groups in the piece. Simply that he has "limitless time" for UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

      In Switzerland direct democracy has been used to pass a number of racist motions including mass expulsion of asylum seekers from one town, the withdrawal of social housing from gypsies in another and the banning of minarets on mosques (the only incident in the world where a constution has been changed to deprive a minority of a religious freedom which others enjoy)

      I think direct democracy has merits, but not when it is being peddled by people who don't fully believe in it themselves and who have offered very poor advice to homeowners in dire circumstances

  8. Remember guys, Freemanism is a subset of the "Sovereign Citizen" movement.

    That movement is considered a terrorist group in the US. (The FBI even have a page on it) and it was started by a notorious white supremacist.

    Also note the about us text on the DDI homepage refers to its supporters as "sovereign citizens".

    Considering the Freemen and Sovereign Citizens groups in Ireland and the UK are ACTIVELY promoting Gilroy, and considering the times he's been interviewed by Freeman groups, well.. The likelyhood of him accidentally calling them "Sovereign Citizens" is small.

    Especially since Whitehead the founder REPEATEDLY also refers to the supporters as "sovereign citizens".

    Me think this is all a bit too much to be a coincidence.