Monday, June 22, 2009

Mainstream Irish media that let Libertas away with everything now tries to redeem itself with anti Libertas angles. Too little too late?

Libertas leaves a nasty taste after poll shenanigans
Declan Ganley and his crew did themselves no favours during their European campaign, says Emer O'Kelly

Sunday June 21 2009

Now that it is all over, Declan Ganley, the leader of the now apparently defunct 'pan-European' Libertas party, looks set to disappear as quickly and mysteriously as he appeared.

The self-made billionaire had, and presumably still has, a house in Ireland, (apparently a very pretty house) although it is not clear if he is resident here for tax purposes, and until the Libertas campaign, his was never a very noticeable presence in this country.

But his billions do not seem to have been put at the disposal of his political allies here or in other countries, although most of them are claiming forcefully that this was his promise. Very little is clear about Ganley, his finances, or his career. His views, however, are well-known, and fit very comfortably with those of Philippe de Villiers, Libertas' "last man standing" in the European elections. De Villiers was leader of his own extreme nationalist 'Mouvement pour la France' until he came under the Libertas wing.

He was the only candidate in any European country to get elected to the European Parliament under the Libertas banner, but in recent days has reverted to designating himself once more under the 'Mouvement plF' insignia.

Eline van den Broek is even more disillusioned. She is a political scientist, and was leader of Libertas in the Netherlands, where extreme right-wing views have never been particularly popular. She only polled 15,000 votes.

In Poland, former President Lech Walesa, whose proud boast was that he had "never read a book, and when he wanted to know something, looked to the Holy Father", was an ally, until he stated that he would urge the Irish people to vote 'Yes' in a second Lisbon referendum. An even closer ally was Miroslaw Orzechowski, leader of the (Catholic) Polish People's Party, one of whose planks is a denial of the 1941 Polish pogrom of thousands of Jews. Ganley dumped him only weeks before the election when he was charged with drunken driving.

Van den Broek is now suing Ganley. He signed off formally, she says, on a budget of €1.1m for the Libertas campaign in the Netherlands. He didn't deliver, and she is suing for €350,000, of which she herself contributed €20,000.

On Ganley's behalf, a spokesman has claimed that they "always made it clear" that money for the election "would have to be raised from donors and supporters".

But then, statements from Libertas spokesmen have a habit of becoming contradictory to the point of hilarity for the rest of the populace.

Caroline Simons, one of those "young articulate professionals" who are such manna for political parties (she's a solicitor) stood for Libertas in Dublin. During the campaign there was an electrical fault in the basement of the campaign office in Baggot Street, in Dublin. A press release was issued, quoting the candidate as saying that while the cause of the fire was "unknown", she was "shocked that something like this would happen. I hope that this is not the action of some political crank. If this fire is found to be the action of an opposing political party, we will seek prosecutions".

No prosecutions followed, presumably because there was never any doubt that the fire was the result of a short-circuit. What was not short-circuited, however, was the career of the person later described merely as "over-zealous" for inventing the comment. Ms Simons seemed to consider it enough to say she had not been consulted. She wasn't "shocked" that a Libertas worker issued blatant lies about what she had said.

Then there was another erroneous press release. Sent out by senior press officer John McGuirk, she was quoted as calling the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (the internationally renowned Jewish organisation responsible for bringing many Holocaust perpetrators to justice) "beneath contempt".

The centre had claimed that some Libertas candidates were known homophobes, anti-Semitic, and anti-migration racists. This was, the Simons' press release claimed, the establishment getting desperate, and finding "a willing idiot to come and say it".

Declan Ganley magisterially rushed to say that Libertas would work WITH the Simon Wiesenthal Centre to fight anti-semitism in the European Parliament, and Caroline Simons sent a legal letter to McGuirk, the man who issued (and presumably drafted) the press release, accusing him of defaming her.

Beastly of her, one might say, to be so nasty to the man who was working day and night on her behalf, and issuing lots of press releases saying what a truly super human being she was, and what a super MEP she would make.

Except it now seems that wasn't what he thought at all, and it wasn't the establishment that was desperate. On Bloomsday, McGuirk posted on the internet what he claimed was his real opinion of Ms Simons. Its invective might have appealed to James Joyce, but it lacked the master's lyricism.

McGuirk described Simons as the "worst candidate in the world". But like some of his earlier press releases saying the opposite, this was quickly withdrawn.

The majority of us have too much sense, and have been forced by experience to be too cynical, to believe most of the words issued by politicians and their lackeys, paid or unpaid. We try to judge people on their actions and the delivery of their word of honour. And honour seems to have been conspicuous by its absence during the Libertas 'campaign', from the particular to the general.

Most of us think that to imply the intent of criminal arson to an opponent is "beneath contempt". Some of us might even think that doing it without a profound and abject apology when its blatant untruth is revealed is also "beneath contempt". And we might be fairly sickened by an organisation that fails to make an example of the person responsible. After all, by their company shall ye know them. And we might not want that kind of company under any guise, Christian or otherwise.

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