"Following the referendum campaign, Mr Giscard, who was a controversial figure during the work of the EU convention and strongly in favour of greater EU federalism, denounced Libertas founder Declan Ganley, claiming that he had deliberately misquoted him in a “dishonest” way."
FORMER FRENCH president Valéry Giscard D’Estaing, who played a key role during Ireland’s Lisbon Treaty referendum last year, is to debate with anti-treaty advocates in Dublin later this month.
Mr Giscard is travel to Ireland on February 12th to be awarded honorary patronage of Trinity College, Dublin’s Philosophical Society, following a vote by members of the body recently.
The event will offer the former French president, who chaired the EU convention that drafted much of the text of the treaty, an opportunity to offer “his vision for the future of Europe”.
Efforts are under way to secure a meeting between Mr Giscard and Taoiseach Brian Cowen, though no arrangements have been made and it is not known if a meeting will take place.
He became a key figure during the campaign after Libertas quoted him as saying that the treaty meant that “public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals we dare not present to them directly”.
The quotation was taken from an interview carried in French newspaper Le Monde but the next paragraph made clear that he believed that such an approach would be “unworthy” and only confirm European citizens “in the idea that the construction of Europe is organised behind their backs by lawyers and diplomats”.
Following the referendum campaign, Mr Giscard, who was a controversial figure during the work of the EU convention and strongly in favour of greater EU federalism, denounced Libertas founder Declan Ganley, claiming that he had deliberately misquoted him in a “dishonest” way.
He insisted that the passage quoted by Le Monde related only to France, because the French government was trying to tell its population that the content of Lisbon was different from the one it had rejected in 2005.
“[The government] wanted to tell them ‘it’s not the same’ when, in reality, the content was the same. So [my] argumentation was for the French. It had no meaning for people who had not voted on the text, like the Irish,” he told The Irish Times last June. Mr Giscard (82) was president of France from 1974 until 1981.
Patronage of the TCD Philosophical Society has been awarded in the past to a host of leading figures in politics, business and the arts including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, FW de Klerk, John Hume and Mohamed ElBaradei.
US presidential election candidate Republican senator John McCain is another to have been so honoured, along with Bob Geldof, Salman Rushdie, Niall Ferguson and Al Pacino.