POLITICAL PARTIES Libertas
“Since we don't have a party in Belgium we are not going to need the office here, but some will stay open and keep campaigning for transparency and democracy in the EU,” said a spokeswoman.
Libertas began life last year as a campaign group against the Lisbon treaty in Ireland and was credited with having helped achieve the ‘No' vote in the referendum against the treaty in June 2008.
Party leader Declan Ganley stood in Ireland for election to the European Parliament but failed to win a seat. He then announced that he would not get involved in a campaign in Ireland to oppose the Lisbon treaty in a second referendum, due in the autumn, but a spokeswoman said that this did not rule out others campaigning.
The office closed last week after opening last December in Brussels' EU quarter as a headquarters for the pan-European party. The spokeswoman said that eight people worked in the office, but all were either on sabbatical from full-time jobs or had contracts for the duration of the election campaign.
Last week it emerged that the Dutch branch of Libertas was seeking €350,000 from Ganley to cover the costs of the election campaign there.
Eline van den Broek, who led the party in the Netherlands, told the Irish Times the debts were in Ganley's name and she was not responsible for them. But Libertas said in a statement that it had been made clear to all branches that money spent during the campaign would have to be raised.
Internal divisions in the party emerged this week which could damage any campaign on the second referendum in Ireland.
Caroline Simons, who stood in Ireland during the European Parliament elections, alleged defamation by Ganley's spokesman, John McGuirk. She objected to a press release sent out by McGuirk during the election campaign in which he attributed to her a comment that the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, an international Jewish organisation, was “beneath contempt”.
The comment followed a statement by the centre that some Libertas candidates were anti-Semitic. Simons denied making the comment.
This week McGuirk told the Irish Times: “I'm very disappointed that a candidate who didn't perform particularly well in the election would choose to embarrass herself like this.”