Libertas founder reluctant to run in European poll


LIBERTAS FOUNDER Declan Ganley has said he is reluctant to run as a candidate in next year's European elections because he doesn't feel like a natural politician.

He also told MEPs in Brussels yesterday he had not yet decided whether to launch Libertas as a political party to fight in the election and a final decision may not be made before January 2009.

"There are no firm decisions made on anything yet; that is the truth," said Mr Ganley at a speaking engagement in the European Parliament where he was billed as the leader of the Irish No campaign by SOS Democracy, a group of MEPs that oppose the Lisbon Treaty.

"The question is do you want to be in them ? Is there a reason to be there? Is our vote at home being respected?," he said.

"We have to weigh all these factors, look at the resource situation, what the possible candidate pool would look like."

Mr Ganley, who has come under sustained attack from pro-Lisbon politicians such as Dick Roche for not revealing where Libertas got its funds to run its anti-Lisbon campaign, again refused to disclose how much the organisation spent on its campaign or where it got its funding. "I'm not going to disclose that right now," said Mr Ganley, who added that he would reveal what was spent and how it was resourced in full accordance with the regulations.

He noted Libertas was still actively fundraising in case it runs candidates in the European elections in several EU states.

Fine Gael MEP Gay Mitchell said the Government should move fast to close a loophole in the law that allows groups like Libertas to avoid the same level of disclosure as political parties. He also criticised Mr Ganley for speaking under the "tutelage of Tory MEPs", which Ireland had nothing in common with.

Labour MEP Proinsias De Rossa accused Mr Ganley of spreading misinformation about Lisbon during the campaign and questioned his pro-European credentials. "You proclaim vigorously that you are pro-European but it is very strange then to see that all your allies are eurosceptics," said Mr De Rossa, whose comments attracted jeers from some MEPs at the meeting, who claim to be pro-European but anti-EU.

Fianna Fáil MEP Eoin Ryan said Mr Ganley should come clean on where he got his funding for the Lisbon campaign and whether he was going to run in the European elections.

But speaking to journalists before the event Mr Ganley, who has a range of business interests at home and abroad, said he was reluctant to stand in elections. "I would find it difficult to. I'm not a natural politician. I would be reluctant to. I don't feel like a politician. But I don't know what politicians feel like."

Mr Ganley also launched a stinging attack on a majority of Irish TDs, who he accused of not respecting the will of the Irish voters by plotting to resurrect the "zombie" that is the Lisbon Treaty by holding a new referendum or ratifying it in the Oireachtas - an idea he said that was akin to democracy in Zimbabwe.

"Lisbon is dead . . . that's where it should stay," said Mr Ganley, who when asked how the EU should proceed told MEPs that it wasn't for him to decide as he didn't have an "electoral mandate".

Pressed on his ideas for the future of Europe, Mr Ganley said any new treaty or constitution should be legible. He said if there was to be a European Council president, this person should be elected in a vote in all member states.