Saturday, March 14, 2009

Libertas critics vindicated by ethics watchdog: " Its my money, and I'll defend all your freedom"

"my money, and I'll defend all your freedom"

Libertas critics vindicated by ethics watchdog
By Senan Molony

Saturday March 14 2009

THE Standards in Public Offices Commission is probably one of the most boring workplaces in the world, its dedicated folk grinding through the dull mechanics of making sure everyone complies with political ethics.

Not for them the sophisticated world of international high finance, with a dash of the military-industrial complex, added to a sudden emergence from the shadows to assume a passionate leading role at a referendum.

But the number crunchers and fact-checkers at SIPO -- they hate being called SPOC, because it suggests they might have pointy ears as well as pointy heads -- may just have torn a revealing strip away from Declan Ganley.

Mr Ganley carefully fostered the idea of his being something of a lone gun against the brutality of the Brussels behemoth when he campaigned against the Lisbon Treaty last year.

He shot from the hip, raised the Libertas banner, and thereby suggested -- by the very name of his single-issue pressure group -- that the European Union was hell-bent on repressing all of its citizens, who were soon to be turned into subjects, if not slaves.

The name was Ganley, Declan Ganley. He was shaken, not stirred, by what the Lisbon Treaty contained. He told us on television that it could even mean a child of three being 'forcibly detained' at the whim of the European Commission.

It thus fell to him, fortunately a man of means, to pick up the tattered battle colours of real democracy, and get to work. And he was superbly successful.

Now a second referendum is in the offing, and the question becomes all the more pertinent and overwhelming -- why would any individual, however principled, keep pouring millions of their own money into another fight against the machine?

THE "my money, and I'll defend all your freedom" argument has been most attractive, but when the novelty wears off, as it must the second time around, an electorate is likely to ponder more deeply the nature of the fanaticism that continues hurling money into the fray. For what purpose?

After all, the result in 'Lisbon I' was an utter vindication. His point was made. The businessman could go back to his boardroom, the citizen having made a philosophical stand.

Now, following the SIPO findings, the money and the honour are both in question, quite apart from the unusual optics of a host of senior US military personnel -- including former US military chief, General Richard Myers -- becoming involved with Mr Ganley's Rivada Networks company.

Libertas, the creature of Mr Ganley alone, has been lashed by the state ethics watchdog for failing to provide details on the funding of its Lisbon campaign. The money-engine behind that successful stop-Lisbon drive thus has a huge question mark hanging over it, and the failure to provide clear answers inevitably reflects on the matter of how upfront Mr Ganley has been on a personal level.

If pure principle was the goad that got him involved in this struggle to begin with, where is the integrity in stringing along a state body when it has legitimate matters to satisfy on behalf of Irish citizens -- whose rights Mr Ganley was so keen to defend?

SIPO says that despite a number of written and telephone reminders to Libertas, "it has failed to provide the required information to the Standards Commission". Europe Minister Dick Roche says the report clearly demonstrates that Libertas is not willing to operate under the law.

The doubters have thus been vindicated in looking all the while askance. On the vital issues of money and motive, the Libertas story still doesn't quite add up.

- Senan Molony

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