by Frank Schnittger
Wed Mar 25th, 2009 at 10:50:58 AM EST
The Irish Election campaign for the European Parliament is beginning to heat up with accusations that Libertas is acting as a 'puppet of the US military' and also that he has failed to comply with the requirements of the Irish Standards in Public Office commission.
Ganley 'puppet of US military' - MEP - The Irish Times - Mon, Mar 23, 2009
Last week Mr Ganley described Mr Higgins as "Swimmer Jim". He claimed the MEP had voted for a swimming pool for MEPs and staff that would cost 9.2 million. Yesterday Mr Higgins said he never voted for such a project and neither did any of his colleagues.
Mr Ganley yesterday predicted that even if Libertas performed poorly in this June's European elections, it would return more MEPs than the combined total of 12 MEPs elected from Ireland.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio's This Week , he said that the party, which is fielding 100 candidates across 27 EU states, would win seats and that the number could be 35 or 15.
Mr Higgins claimed Mr Ganley had refused to disclose information about last year's campaign. He said the Libertas founder was a "lord of the manor who lectures from on high in relation to transparency. It begs the question, what is Mr Ganley hiding?"
Mr Higgins also questioned some of the political affiliations Mr Ganley and Libertas have built up in attempts to make Libertas a pan-European party. He also claimed that the businessman was doing the US military's bidding.
I have seen scattered reports of Libertas seeking to make alliances with some rather strange bedfellows throughout Europe and would be interested in doing a country by country audit of what candidates and parties they are aligning themselves with. Would readers like to contribute their knowledge of who Libertas is running or aligning with in their own countries, and also what policy platform it is running on?
Ganley is branded a 'puppet of US military' - National News, Frontpage - Independent.ie
Earlier, Mr Higgins added Mr Ganley would also have to explain why "two of the Eastern European politicians who signed his ratification for recognition as a political party have now withdrawn their signatures" and to come clean about the one million Swedish Krona allegedly offered to the euro-sceptical political party Junilistan to add the name of Libertas to its title.
Mr Higgins claimed that its leader had responded by saying that it would be "extremely unethical" for the Swedish party to be funded by a millionaire from another country.
He said the public would also like to know why, after courting and supporting the ultra right wing Catholic LPR party in Poland, Mr Ganley has "suddenly bolted in the opposite direction" this week.
Mindful of the fact that the EU enjoys over 70% support in Ireland, Libertas is now denying that it is a Eurosceptic party and claims to be campaigning for a more democratic Europe opposed to the bureaucratic elites in Brussels and in various national capitals.
This is a popular message to be sending out in Ireland because there is a widespread popular feeling of detachment, remoteness and incomprehension about how the EU goes about its business which was highlighted by the Irish Lisbon referendum campaign.
However Declan Ganley also seems to be aligning Libertas with europsceptics like Vaclav Klaus and Jean-Marie Le Pen in other countries and so it seems that his pro-Europeanism is more the Europeanism of Nationalists like Margaret Thatcher who argued that the EU should be an alliance of strong nation states rather than developing into a more powerful separate entity with institutions such as the EU Parliament, Council, and Commission developing more influence in their own right.
To many in Ireland it is somewhat ironic that Ganley should criticise undemocratic elites in Europe when he himself has never been elected to anything and has made a multi-million fortune through his company Rivada Networks, supplying services to the US military. His company has former generals and Admirals on its Board which has led to accusations that Ganley is really doing the bidding of the US Military Industrial complex and seeking to prevent the EU become an effective competitor to the US.
Ganley also has extensive links to neo-conservative US think tanks like the Heritage Foundation which have explicitly opposed the Lisbon Treaty on the grounds that it might lead to the EU becoming a more effective competitor to the US in global strategic affairs at the expense of a US dominated NATO.
There's no use turning Ganley into a scapegoat - Analysis, Opinion - Independent.ie
Last week, the president of the European parliament, Hans-Gert Pottering, raised the spectre of an EU investigation into any possible association between US military agencies and the Irish lobby group Libertas, which campaigned successfully for a 'No' vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum. Declan Ganley of Libertas has described Pottering's remarks as "utterly outrageous".
Ganley may be "outraged" but it turns out that Libertas, in fact, had very unusual financing during the referendum. And Ganley's American company, Rivada, has lucrative defence contracts with US government agencies. Some Americans wanted the Irish to vote 'No', and thus weaken the prospects of a stronger united Europe with its own army.
Anyone watching closely the current US presidential election knows just how dirty and rough they play the political game in Washington. It is certainly not beyond the bounds of possibility that US intelligence services might have attempted to coax or encourage Ganley to take the plunge and oppose Lisbon.
Not that Ganley needed coaxing by anyone. It turns out that he gave Libertas a "personal loan" of 200,000 from his personal wealth, wealth that is estimated to be 300m. The "loan" was a neat way to get around Irish law that limits donations to political organisations to just 6,348.69 per person (IR£5,000). It would have been impossible if Irish election laws were stricter.
I personally welcome the development of pan-European parties as this can foster the development of a pan European demos and polity. It is not healthy that Barroso is likely to be "re-elected" President of the European Commission without any significant opposition or public debate, and if Libertas helps to create a more Pan European polity, so much the better.
However there seems to me to be a huge disparity between Libertas' electoral platform and alliances and actually trying to make the EU work more effectively. As befits a slick marketing operation they have correctly identified a vein of popular apathy, disillusion, ignorance and alienation from what seems a very complex and opaque political process within the EU.
I have no doubt that there is also a significant Eurosceptic vote to be harvested throughout the EU and Libertas may even succeed in getting Ganley elected to the European Parliament in the Ireland North-West Constituency where the third and last seat is probably a close call between Ganley, Independent MEP Marian Harkin, and Sinn Fein. We may be sure that Ganley did his market research before declaring his candidacy and there will be some admiration for his entrepreneurial achievements, particularly at a time of devastating economic depression.
What I don't want to see however, is European politics increasingly dominated by big money, big business, big media organisations and a demagogic form of populism which trades on people's lack of knowledge of how the EU actually works and seeks to exploit people's fears in an increasing insecure global economy.
The Murdock owned "Sunday Times" absolutely refused to publish any pro-Lisbon articles during the last Lisbon referendum campaign and the more tabloid Murdock titles have an increasing circulation in Ireland particularly amongst the market segments which voted heavily against Lisbon.
It would be a great pity, however, if whatever European "Demos" does develop should come to be dominated by such Eurosceptic dominated businesses, media empires and political alliances. It seems that Libertas has sought to link up opportunistically with whatever eurosceptic elements it can find in the various member states. As usual the right seems to be so much better organised and financed than its left wing or green counterparts.
It would also be a sad irony if the European Demos moved decisively to the right just as Obama is moving the US to the left and as the militarism of the neo-cons and the neo-liberalism of the global financial elite are being so decisively discredited every where else.
So what has Libertas been up to in your country? I would appreciate any information you have in the comments.