Libertas refused use of Liberty Hall


THE LAUNCH of Libertas’ European election campaign for the Dublin constituency was hit last night by a row with trade union Siptu over its refusal to allow the use of Liberty Hall, its headquarters, for the announcement.

Libertas said yesterday it had booked a room in Liberty Hall five weeks ago for the launch of the campaign of its Dublin candidate, Caroline Simons.

However, Siptu informed the party yesterday that it could not use the room. Yesterday afternoon, Libertas switched the venue to the nearby Wynn’s Hotel for the launch. When contacted, Siptu cited two grounds for its refusal: the use of what it said was “subterfuge” when the booking of the room was made; and because it did not agree with its policies.

The union said the room was booked by a person who was a Siptu shop steward, but who gave no indication that it would be used by Libertas for the launch of Ms Simons’s campaign.

If it had known the purpose of the meeting, permission would never have been granted. “We suspect that this was a stunt from the beginning,” said a spokesman.

For its part, Libertas said that the booking had been open and had been made some weeks previously. “This extraordinary and last-minute U-turn by the authorities at Liberty Hall raises very interesting questions. Caroline Simons spent a large portion of her career working with the trade union movement to secure equality for women. She adopted the same position on the Lisbon Treaty as an overwhelming majority of trade union members,” said Libertas spokesman John McGuirk.

Speaking at the launch, Ms Simons, a Dublin solicitor with five young daughters, claimed EU interference in Ireland’s corporate tax regime represented the greatest threat to Ireland’s independence.

She said that this threat was real, quoting comments made by an aide of German chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this year, who said that Ireland’s corporate tax rate needed to be revisited.

Ms Simons was introduced to an audience of some 70 people by Libertas East candidate Raymond O’Malley.

Ms Simons criticised the EU which she said created 80 per cent of Ireland’s laws and costs €130 billion each year.

She said Libertas was not anti-European, but that all its candidates throughout Europe were “united in one goal to make the EU closer to and accountable to its citizens”.

She criticised what she portrayed as wasteful spending by an institution where “decisions are taken behind closed doors”.

She claimed Brussels was disconnected from the very tough times that were being encountered everywhere. She said EU institutions had provided swimming pools, health spas, free education and exclusive schools for itself.

“What do we get here? The bill,” she said.

The four sitting MEPs in Dublin are Eoin Ryan (Fianna Fail); Gay Mitchell (Fine Gael); Proinsias De Rossa (Labour); and Mary Lou McDonald (Sinn Féin). Deirdre de Búrca (Green Party) and Joe Higgins (Socialist Party) have also declared they will be candidates.