Ganley urges electorate to back party in protest at political establishment


EU: LIBERTAS:LIBERTAS FOUNDER Declan Ganley yesterday urged voters to back him in next month's European Parliament elections if they are unhappy with the Government and the Opposition.

He launched the Libertas campaign in Dublin yesterday, alongside Caroline Simons, who is running in Dublin, and former deputy president of the Irish Farmers' Association Raymond O'Malley, who is contesting the East constituency.

"Everybody knows that we have a political cartel in this country: Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and whatever you are having yourself that has failed us," Mr Ganley said.

"Opposition failed us just as government failed us. They failed to blow the whistle when they needed to do it when it was clear that this country was heading into an economically bad place, and that job creation was going to be affected and that our competitiveness was going to be undermined."

He urged disaffected voters not to stay at home on polling day: "A no-show is a vote for the status quo. You might as well be voting for business as usual. Use your vote. People fought hard to win you that right."

Clearly seeking to exploit the electorate's unhappiness with the Government, Mr Ganley said: "A vote for Fianna Fáil is a vote for Brian Cowen, endorsing his actions up to now. A vote for any other party, Fine Gael or anybody else, is . . . wasted . . . because these parties can never hold more than two, three or four seats in the European Parliament."

Libertas is running 300 candidates in 24 EU states in the June 5th elections and has strong hopes. He said they will win 100 seats in the parliament. Voters would be guaranteed that Libertas MEPs would protect Ireland's corporation tax rates, he said.

Opinion polls putting Libertas at just 2 per cent in the polls do "not marry with our private polling. We pay no attention to other people's polls. We do pay attention to our own research and our own research is extremely encouraging. There has been an encouraging reaction from the public.

"It may be a result of a recognition that people are just sick and tired of politics as usual. That's part of it," he told journalists.

He confirmed he will step down as Libertas leader if he does not get elected in the North West constituency. "That is democracy. I can take No for an answer, unlike other people."

Launching a strong attack on Labour's outgoing Dublin MEP, Proinsias De Rossa, Ms Simons said he is "a man who has been 15 years in the European Parliament and who next year will be 70 years of age".

Asked to explain why she had highlighted Mr De Rossa's age, she denied she was discriminating against older people, adding: "I want to make it clear that Libertas is a new party with energy, vitality and ideas."

Mr Ganley intervened when Ms Simons was questioned further, saying: "We have a number of candidates who are senior and have experience. We have a man blind since birth, who is the leader of our party in Spain, who has come in for some ridicule.

"There's a big difference between people who have age and experience on their side and people who have become cynical and tired of the political process - so cynical in De Rossa's case he actually voted not to respect the outcome of the Irish referendum. That is a deep cynicism and maybe in his case he needs to do something else.

"Maybe that is a sign that somebody needs to go and do something different. It has got nothing to do with age. It has a lot to do with attitude."