Fri Oct 3rd, 2008 at 03:32:04 AM EST
The European Parliament are concerned about where the anti-Lisbon, anti-Europe group Libertas got its funding from and the newspapers are finally picking up the story properly:
The 2007 acccounts show no income or expenditure for the year but, according to the Irish Times there's a bit of a problem with that:
The public indications of expenditure during 2007 are as follows: a statement after the referendum by former Libertas spokesman John McGuirk, that a room was hired in the Davenport Hotel in August to discuss strategy; a press conference held in a hired room in the Merrion Hotel, Dublin, in December 2007; the fact that Ganley and the second, lesser public face of Libertas, Naoise Nunn, held a photocall outside the Merrion where they posed in front of a large Libertas billboard mounted on the back of a truck; and the fact that during December McGuirk was working for a PR firm, Bracken PR, which had in turn been hired by Libertas.
When asked during the campaign how all this was funded when the accounts stated there was no income or expenditure during 2007, McGuirk said: "Directors' loans." When asked why this wasn't reflected in the Libertas accounts, McGuirk said none of the expenditure he was referring to had occurred during 2007. He then refused to confirm that there had been loans from directors, but instead said Libertas was, since January 1st, 2008, receiving donations.
When Ganley, after the campaign, was asked how these activities in 2007 were funded, he said: "I don't know." He said it was not the case that other directors' loans existed besides his own.
The two issues - the loans from Ganley and others, and the 2007 accounts - are interlinked.
Overall, of course, there is the question of credibility but there is also the issue that on the basis of the accounts, it appears that at least one substantial loan was given to a body in early 2008 that up to the end of 2007 last year had no money at all.
Under Irish electoral law, bodies such as Libertas can only receive loans if they are bona fide loans, with terms and conditions and interest rates equivalent to that available in the market generally.
Libertas's only answer to these questions has been to respond that it was funded by donations in accordance with Irish law.
Wouldn't it have been nice if this was addressed properly during the campaign?