Ganley attacks Yes campaign's 'half-truths'

 

Libertas leader explains U-turn on his involvement in second referendum

EITHNE DONNELLAN

THERE HAS been an “astonishing degree of misrepresentation” of the Lisbon Treaty, campaigner Declan Ganley said yesterday as he explained why he had decided to lobby again for a No vote.

Speaking at a press conference in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin, the Libertas leader said the Irish vote against the treaty was not being respected.

“There is now clearly a lack of will for democracy in the institutions of the European Union.”

He said he expected to hold several press briefings over the coming weeks. “The Lisbon Treaty was not designed for Ireland, it was not designed with Ireland in mind.” He said that what he termed the “fallacies” propagated by the Yes side had become “nauseating to listen to over the last several weeks”.

After failing to get elected to the European Parliament in the Ireland North-West constituency in last June’s elections, Mr Ganley said he would not be involved in the second referendum on Lisbon.

“It’s anybody’s right and privilege to change their mind,” he said yesterday. The Yes side were asking the Irish people to change their mind on Lisbon. “I didn’t want to re-engage in this debate. It wasn’t something that I relished.”

But he continued: “This isn’t about me, I’m not important in this. This is about Ireland’s place in the European Union . . . it’s about my country, a country that I love and it’s about standing up for the truth when people are telling huge lies, and the truth does not require a mandate.”

He said that “listening to this cacophony of half-truths and misleading campaigning – it’s just become unbearable”. He said the European Commission had “crossed a line that should never have been crossed and started to interfere in a constitutional debate in a member state”.

Libertas would notify the Standards in Public Office Commission today that it was starting to raise funds for its campaign.

“It’s difficult to say how much we’ll raise. We’re targeting anywhere between €50,000 and €200,000. We don’t know how successful we’ll be, people are tapped-out across this country as we all know and these are difficult times, so we will not be running a campaign like the first Lisbon campaign.

“The resources that we have are minuscule in comparison to the Yes side, which was very well-resourced the last time, it’s even more well-resourced this time. But we’ll do what we can.

“And yes, there will be a limited billboard campaign, there will be a poster campaign, there’ll be hopefully some newspaper advertising,” he said.

At a function in Dublin Castle, Taoiseach Brian Cowen told reporters that the No campaign had spent “a lot of money” last time telling people there wouldn’t be an Irish commissioner.

“The only way to have a commissioner now is to vote Yes and also I think this question of tax autonomy was questioned and I think we’ve got clear guarantees on that front as well.”

Rejecting Mr Ganley’s charge that the Yes side was lying, he said: “Well Im afraid my response to that is that our whole approach is based on the factual situation.”

Minister of State for European Affairs Dick Roche told a Fianna Fáil meeting in Mullingar that Mr Ganley and his associates, “wish to destroy the EU as we know it”.

Former Green MEP Patricia McKenna of the People’s Movement said: “The Yes side have tried to present this campaign as somehow different to last year’s in that all big business interests who had reservations last year were now advocating a Yes vote, but Ganleys decision to break his vow of silence and get involved in the campaign has put a stop to that.”