Ganley says he gave €200,000 loan to Libertas

 

THE FOUNDER of Libertas, business man Declan Ganley, says he gave a personal loan of €200,000 to help fund its campaign against the Lisbon Treaty.

Speaking to The Irish TimesMr Ganley said the organisation's spend on the campaign was "about €800,000". He said a number of people provided loans but he did not have a total figure for the amount lent. The money that did not come from loans came from donations from Irish people and companies, he said. "All of the money was raised in Ireland."

On Today FM's The Last WordMr Ganley said: "The first loan that I gave was in the region of about €200,000." He later said this was the only loan.

During the Lisbon campaign the communications director for Libertas John McGuirk indicated it had a budget of €1.3 million. The law limits the amount an individual donor can give to a group such as Libertas in any one year to € 6,348.69. However, loans can be made as long as they are "bona fide", according to the Standards in Public Office Commission.

The Libertas website currently invites people to make donations, whether over the internet, by electronic transfer to its account in Tuam, Co Galway, or by cheque.

The leader of Fine Gael, Enda Kenny, and a spokesman for Minister for the Environment John Gormley, both said yesterday that the law on political fund-raising might have to be changed to increase transparency.

Asked yesterday if Libertas intended becoming involved in politics, Mr Ganley said that depended on whether Brussels and the Irish Government "respect the referendum result, the democratically expressed will of the people".

Speaking on RTÉ radio's News At Oneyesterday Mr Ganley said there was a need for "fresh blood" in Irish politics. "There is a need to grip the reins and take control of this mess that people like Dick Roche have got us into. Something needs to be done," he said. He was responding to Mr Roche who called Mr Ganley a "grade A hypocrite". Mr Roche said Mr Ganley had been saying there was a lack of transparency in Europe but his company, Rivada Networks, had secured substantial US government contracts using arrangements instituted to assist tribal corporations in Alaska. "I think anyone who reads into the arrangement of these contracts would see that they are quite bizarre."

Mr Ganley said if people like Mr Roche "had properly nurtured entrepreneurship instead of a stamp duty collecting, property inflating, bubble producing, economic process, we wouldn't find ourselves in the situation economically we are in now."

Mr Ganley is chief executive of a US company called Rivada Networks, which has a joint venture with an Alaskan native corporation, Nana Pacific. The joint venture, Rivada Pacific, has secured communications contracts worth $37 million in recent years from the US military, according to the website, www.fedspending.org. It's largest customer is the US Northern Command. Because of the involvement of the native Alaskan corporation, the joint venture is not subject to US procurement rules that would otherwise apply.

Mr Ganley told The Irish Timeslast night that Rivada didn't decide how the US authorities ran their tenders and he would not apologise to Mr Roche for his firm winning communications contracts.

"This has nothing to do with my business . . . Mr Roche won't abide by the will of the people . . . to say no to the Lisbon treaty. . ." he said.