Jim Higgins the Fine Gael MEP in whose constituency Declan Ganley is running for the far right Libertas party has steped up the war of words accusing Ganley of being a puppet of the US miltary.
Ganley has previously threatened to sue Higgins but as usual failed to proceed with the action. This threatened action was over for over previous statements by Higgins.
Ganley 'puppet of US military' - MEP
Jim Higgins MEP, speaking at the Fine Gael North-West selection convention at the Sligo Park Hotel yesterday, questioned some of the affiliations Libertas has built up in its attempts to become a pan-European party.
Photograph: James Connolly
Harry McGee, Political Staff Irish Times
THE FINE Gael MEP Jim Higgins has accused Libertas founder Declan Ganley of being a “puppet of the US military”.
Mr Higgins, who was yesterday selected by his party to defend his European Parliament seat in the North-West constituency, also alleged that Mr Ganley had made “malicious claims” against him in relation to a €9.2 million swimming pool for parliamentarians and staff in Brussels.
A week after Mr Ganley used the launch of his campaign in the constituency to mount a political attack on Mr Higgins, the Mayo-based MEP’s speech at the selection convention in Sligo sharply criticised Libertas and its founder.
Mr Higgins said that Mr Ganley has constantly refused to tell the Standards in Public Office Commission about the nature and condition of his personal loan to Libertas and also about the involvement of staff from his company Rivada Networks in the referendum campaign on the Lisbon Treaty last year.
Last week Mr Ganley described Mr Higgins as “Swimmer Jim”. He claimed the MEP had voted for a swimming pool for MEPs and staff that would cost €9.2 million. Yesterday Mr Higgins said he never voted for such a project and neither did any of his colleagues.
Mr Ganley yesterday predicted that even if Libertas performed poorly in this June’s European elections, it would return more MEPs than the combined total of 12 MEPs elected from Ireland.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s This Week , he said that the party, which is fielding 100 candidates across 27 EU states, would win seats and that the number could be 35 or 15. He added that it would be very much determined on turnout.
“If we provoke a very high turnout, which is our objective, then Libertas can potentially win a very large number of seats.”
He accepted that his wealth had made possible his campaign against the Lisbon Treaty but said some of the figures being “bandied about” in relation to his personal spending were “ridiculous”.
He said Libertas would soon propose a system whereby donations would be capped at €1,000 per donor, and the source of all political donations would be identified.
Mr Higgins claimed Mr Ganley had refused to disclose information about last year’s campaign. He said the Libertas founder was a “lord of the manor who lectures from on high in relation to transparency. It begs the question, what is Mr Ganley hiding?”
Mr Higgins also questioned some of the political affiliations Mr Ganley and Libertas have built up in attempts to make Libertas a pan-European party. He also claimed that the businessman was doing the US military’s bidding.