Destroy Libertas now make sure Ganley fails
NORTH WEST: LIBERTAS FOUNDER Declan Ganley has ruled himself out of playing a major role in a campaign to defeat the upcoming second Lisbon Treaty referendum campaign if he is not elected to a European Parliament seat in the North West constituency.
Insisting that Libertas’s own private polling showed he would win one of the three seats, Mr Ganley said: “I am offering myself for service, as it were. I am seeking the right, and the privilege to serve them. If they don’t want me to do that, then I have another duty to my wife and four children, and to the people in the businesses that I have built up,” he told The Irish Times yesterday.
Speaking on RTÉ’s News At One earlier, he said: “If I do not get a mandate and win a seat, I would not think it would be the right thing to lead a campaign against the Lisbon Treaty referendum.”
A campaign against Lisbon II without holding a European seat would not be possible, he said, even though he played a leading role in the campaign to defeat the first one last year without an electoral mandate. “That was active citizenship.
“I led one of the efforts against it. I have never claimed, as people have claimed, that I claimed that I was the only one. Clearly, I wasn’t,” said Mr Ganley.
His comments come amid an increasingly sharp contest in the North West constituency.
Outgoing MEPs Fine Gael’s Jim Higgins and Independent Marian Harkin are running again, along with Fianna Fáil’s ex-MEP and Minister of State Pat “The Cope”Gallagher, and former senator Paschal Mooney.
Mr Gallagher hinted that he could yet receive an endorsement from the former Connacht/Ulster MEP, Dana Rosemary Scallon, who was strongly supported by conservatives in the constituency in 1999.
Mr Higgins was yesterday accused by his running-mate Fine Gael Senator Joe O’Reilly of “posturing for media purposes” in a dispute over the terms of an agreement to divide the constituency.
The point at issue was whether the entire constituency would be open to both Fine Gael contenders in the final weeks of canvassing, or just the last few days.
Both candidates accept that they agreed to split up the North West in the early stages, so that Mr Higgins would canvass his own county of Mayo, as well as Clare, Galway and South Roscommon, leaving Mr O’Reilly with his home base of Cavan, along with Donegal, Monaghan, Westmeath, Sligo, Leitrim and North Roscommon.
But Mr Higgins claims the terms of the agreement specified that the entire constituency would be open to both candidates in “the final three weeks” whereas Mr O’Reilly maintains that this was only intended to apply “in the last few days”. Mr Higgins told The Irish Times last night: “I don’t want to get into a war of words with Joe” but “in view of the fact that there are now only two weeks left, I think it is vitally important that Joe be allowed into my territory and I be allowed into his.”
But Mr O’Reilly said: “The divide was agreed to by Jim Higgins MEP at the outset of the campaign . . . The most charitable conclusion that I can draw is that he is posturing for media purposes.”