Friday, April 10, 2009

Irish Times conforms Ganley is getting ready to run for cover

Ganley will not lead Lisbon campaign if he fails to win seat

LIBERTAS FOUNDER Declan Ganley says he will step down from leading the organisation’s campaign against the Lisbon Treaty referendum if he is unsuccessful in the upcoming European elections.

Mr Ganley, who is a candidate in the North West constituency, was speaking in Dublin at a debate with Labour leader Pat Rabbitte on the Treaty.

“I am seeking a democratic mandate. Without it I could not lead a successful campaign against the Lisbon Treaty,” he said at the event, which was organised by the NUI Galway Alumni Association.

Mr Ganley also claimed that the Czech Republic’s deputy prime minister, Alexander Vondra, had told him that Minister of State for European Affairs Dick Roche and civil servants had said they wanted Ireland “isolated”.

Mr Ganley said that at a dinner in Dublin last autumn Mr Vondra told him he had a meeting with Mr Roche and civil servants and had asked them what their objective was in the aftermath of the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty.

“They said to him - your public servants that you pay for with your taxes - they said to him, ‘We want to be isolated. We want Ireland isolated. We want everybody else to have ratified.’”

Mr Ganley said: “I think that that is a disgrace and I think it is a betrayal of the sovereign decision of the Irish people that we have public servants asking the deputy prime minister of the Czech Republic to ratify, to carry on and ratify, put pressure on our country so that we would be, in their stated objective, isolated.”

The veracity of the claim was angrily challenged by several members of the audience, who described it as unsubstantiated and hearsay.

Contacted by The Irish Times last night, Mr Roche dismissed the claim as “nonsense”.

He said: “This is classic Ganley: take a fact and try to distort it. It would be better if he started to tell the truth about his funds, about where the money comes from.”

Mr Roche said he had met Mr Vondra perhaps more than 20 times, noting Mr Vondra had paid a pre-presidency visit to Ireland. “We’ve consistently said we will ratify in our own time. It’s not up to us to advise the Czech Republic. We don’t want to influence anybody and we don’t want to be influenced by anybody.”

Earlier, Labour leader Pat Rabbitte said Ireland could not afford another debate about matters not actually contained in the Lisbon Treaty. Proponents of a Yes vote should not allow themselves to be distracted by “every hare” invented by the No side.

“A little less Libertas and a little more veritas,” he said.

Mr Rabbitte said “narrow nationalism, protectionism and insularity are recipes for disaster”. There was nothing to be gained by standing alone “as the master of an ever more narrow space”.

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times

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