More information on funding of Libertas given by Ganley


DECLAN GANLEY, the founder of Libertas, has given more information about the funding of the organisation's high-profile campaign against the Lisbon Treaty.

Last week Mr Ganley disclosed that he had given Libertas a "personal loan" of €200,000 to help fund its campaign.

In an interview with today's edition of Hot Press, Mr Ganley said that as well as giving it the loan he "also structured a loan facility that would allow Libertas to draw down a higher amount if or when it's needed".

Last week Mr Ganley said that the €200,000 loan was the only loan he had given the group. He said others had also lent money to Libertas but would not identify these people.

Last night Mr Ganley told The Irish Times that the €200,000 he said he lent to Libertas came from the loan facility that he mentioned in his interview with Hot Press. He said he set up the facility "right at the beginning, when we started to get rolling in January".

Irish electoral law restricts the size of donations that can be made to groups such as Libertas to €6,348.69 per donor per annum. Donors must be Irish citizens or companies that are based in Ireland and direct their affairs from here. Only bona fide loans can be accepted by such groups.

Mr Ganley has said the total amount spent by the group during the campaign was in the region of €800,000. The group's spokesman John McGuirk, said during the campaign that it had a budget of €1.3 million.

Earlier this week European parliament president Hans-Gert Pottering called on Mr Ganley to reveal where he got the funds to campaign against the Lisbon Treaty.

He has also asked the parliament's political groups to consider launching an inquiry to discover whether US agencies actively supported Libertas in the June 12th referendum. Mr Ganley's US company, Rivada Networks, sells communications services to the US military and the US National Guard.

Mr Ganley told The Irish Times that he considered Mr Pottering's remarks to be "absolutely outrageous".

A spokesman for the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo), which monitors compliance with the law on political fund-raising, said it was aware of media reports on "loans and funding generally and the implications that this might have for its requirements under the act."

He said it was the first time that this particular aspect of the law on political fundraising "has been tested to this extent".

Asked if Sipo was conducting an inquiry into Libertas and its funding, the spokesman said it did not comment on particular inquiries it might or might not be undertaking.

Mr Ganley said it was not the case, as reported in a Sunday newspaper recently, that Libertas had "cleared" its fundraising with Sipo prior to the referendum campaign. He said Libertas had communicated with Sipo so as to ascertain the law governing fund-raising.

A spokesman for Sipo said: "There is no provision in the legislation for third parties to clear spending on referendum, or any other campaign in advance with the Sipo and no third party did so before the most recent campaign".

The Libertas website is still seeking donations from supporters for its campaign but it does not warn potential donors of the restrictions that apply to such donations.

According to Sipo, the onus is on organisations such as Libertas to ensure persons making a donation are complying with the legislation. It is possible to donate to Libertas over the internet using a credit card and giving them no verified information other than the name that appears on the credit card.