Ganley defends comments on detention of young children


LIBERTAS ROW:THE FOUNDER of Libertas, Declan Ganley, yesterday became embroiled in a bitter row with pro-Lisbon political parties following his claims that ratification of the treaty would lead to the detention of young children for educational purposes.

Mr Ganley faced a chorus of criticism following comments he made during a TV debate on Wednesday night. He had claimed a clause in the Charter of Fundamental Rights would allow young children as young as three to be detained for educational purposes.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore accused Mr Ganley of making “probably the most misleading and outrageous claim made to date by those seeking a No vote”. He called on Mr Ganley and Libertas to withdraw the claim. He also urged organisations opposing the treaty to dissociate themselves from the allegation.

But Libertas responded last night by standing over the claim and criticised Mr Gilmore and others for failing to read the charter.

In his comments, Mr Gilmore, who participated in the TV debate, said he was “absolutely shocked” by the claims. “It was clearly an attempt to frighten people into voting No. The No campaign is increasingly resorting to scaremongering,” he said.

Minister of State for European Affairs Dick Roche also condemned the comments and said there were now seven specific areas in which Libertas had made unsustainable arguments, including about tax and abortion.

“Libertas is engaged in a deliberate policy of spreading confusion through misrepresentation. They are consistently launching attacks in the hope that some mud sticks and that people will be frightened into voting No,” he said.

His Fianna Fáil colleague, Meath TD Thomas Byrne, described the detention claims as “ridiculous and deeply cynical”.

PD leader Ciarán Cannon portrayed Mr Ganley’s comments as “guff”.

However, last night Caroline Simons of Libertas said Mr Ganley was correct. “The charter specifically allows the detention of children for educational supervision. That is a fact,” she said. Mr Gilmore should read the text of the charter, she added.

She cited the explanation of Article 6 of the charter that outlines the limitations to the right to liberty.

Ms Simons said the text states “the detention of a minor by lawful order for the purpose of educational supervision” is permitted.