Libertas executive director is Rivada employee

Sat, May 24, 2008, 01:00

LIBERTAS:THE EXECUTIVE director of the Libertas group, which is campaigning for a No vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum, has confirmed he is a full-time employee of Rivada, the US company that sells communications technology to the US military and national guard.

Executive director Naoise Nunn said the group’s campaign director, David Cochrane, is also an employee of Rivada.

On Tuesday Declan Ganley, the Galway-based businessman who is chairman of Libertas and chairman and chief executive of Rivada Networks LLC, said there was no overlap between Rivada and Libertas.

Rivada, which is registered in Delaware, has an Irish subsidiary at Mr Ganley’s home address in Tuam, Co Galway. The address is also used by Libertas.

Mr Nunn told The Irish Times he has been employed by Rivada since October 2006. “Rivada has been my employer and still is as far as I know.” He said he believed his employer was now “in the process of being changed” to Libertas.

Asked what he did for Rivada, Mr Nunn said he mainly did work for Libertas. Asked who would assign him to his work, he said Mr Ganley. He said Mr Cochrane began working for Rivada last year, and was engaged mainly in developing the Libertas website until December 2007, when he became the Libertas campaign director for the Lisbon Treaty referendum campaign.

However, the fourth “member of staff” listed on the Libertas website, communications director John McGuirk, said Rivada staff who “provided assistance” to Libertas during 2007 did so in their “free time” while fulfilling their duties to Rivada Networks.

“Rivada Networks and Libertas are totally separate and distinct organisations. Rivada’s business activities and the activities of Libertas as a . . . voluntarily staffed organisation, bear no relation to each other, in the same way that somebody’s football club would bear no relation to their employer,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Rivada in the US told The Irish Times it had not donated any money to Libertas. “Rivada [and its set of companies] has not made any donations to Libertas, as that has been prohibited by Mr. Ganley,” she said. The 2007 accounts for The Libertas Institute Ltd state it had no overheads during the year and no administrative costs.

Mr McGuirk has said Libertas has a budget of €300,000 for its campaign and began receiving donations from Irish supporters in January of this year. It registered with the Standards in Public Office Commission in December 2007.

A spokesman for the commission said third parties involved in political campaigning are obliged to register with the commission on receipt of donations in excess of €127.