Ex-Libertas director now backs Lisbon


IRELAND DOES not have the luxury of a second No vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum and voters should vote Yes, one of the architects of last year’s Libertas campaign has said.

Naoise Nunn, who resigned as executive director of Libertas last September said: “The circumstances have changed: internationally, economically, financially and domestically.

“We don’t have the luxury of doing anything else. I am glad that we had a referendum. We were the only member state to do so, to have a proper debate, or something like a proper debate,” Mr Nunn told The Irish Times.

His public declaration will come as an embarrassment for Libertas founder, Declan Ganley, who is running for the organisation in the European Parliament elections in the North-West constituency.

Both sides were guilty, he said, of “scare-mongering and misinformation” during the referendum campaign. Mr Nunn, who was one of the central figures in Libertas’s campaign last year, is understood to have written a detailed critique of Libertas’s performance last year for Mr Ganley’s attention before his departure last year.

However, Mr Nunn declined to reveal its contents yesterday: “I am not into washing dirty linen in public. I did work for Libertas. I was an employee. I was doing my job. I put the arguments out.”

A No vote in the referendum, which is expected to take place in October, would be “dangerous for the country, but I don’t think frankly that that is going to happen”. However, he said he had not changed his view that the EU is “disconnected” from its citizens, though he raised questions about “much vaunted” efforts to communicate a clear message to them.

Asked why he had referred to Libertas as having “dirty linen”, Mr Nunn said: “I don’t want to be specific about that. They are people I worked with. They are people I don’t want to hurl abuse at.”

Questioned about his attitude to his former boss, Mr Nunn, who now runs Leviathan, a political forum, said he had always “got on” with Mr Ganley: “He is a very personable guy.”

He went on: “He is a very driven guy, who is extremely ambitious. He feels he has a role to play in European politics. He is fascinated by all of it. He devours history books. He is absolutely fascinated by all of it.”

Mr Nunn is believed to have been behind Libertas’s successful billboard campaign, which focused on the dangers for Ireland if it lost a permanent place at the European Commission.

While he accepted that commissioners act in the European and not the national interest, he said there is a public perception that it is “almost like a senate of the EU”; and “a lot of people felt the loss of that disconnection.

“But it appears that that issue has been resolved, or, at least, there is a serious will to resolve it,” said Mr Nunn, pointing to an agreement last December among EU leaders that all member states will continue to be represented.

He said he had changed his mind on the treaty before he left Libertas last September: “My opinions evolved. Political views do evolve over time.”