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Declan Ganley, the multimillionaire businessman, who founded the anti-Lisbon Treaty Libertas group, is like every aspiring or existing politician. His primary interest is himself. It's the other interests - - motivations and credibility of stated positions - - that count, for example both his opposition and support for key European Union subsidy programmes such as the Common Agricultural Policy.
Ganley said last year that his Libertas group is "dedicated to campaigning for greater democratic accountability and transparency in the institutions of the EU and developing innovative policies which can benefit Europe and foster a more positive relationship between those institutions and the citizens for whom they legislate."
Lecturing Europeans from Ireland about "democratic accountability and transparency," is an absolute joke, given the economic wreckage left in the wake of Ireland's own broken political system.
Given the recent evidence of the opposition of members of the Oireachtas to reform in Dublin, what impact would a fringe group such as Libertas, have in the European Parliament, which Ganley is seeking election to, from the Ireland North-West constituency?
Last year, a cocktail of farmers fearful of losing existing welfare subsidies, right-wing Catholics sold on the argument the Lisbon Treaty would result in the legalisation of abortion, opponents of immigration, know-nothings who claimed they didn't understand/couldn't bother finding out, what the Treaty was about and dreamers on issues such as sovereignty and neutrality, gave Libertas victory in the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.
Many wealthy media commentators who would have instinctively opposed George W. Bush's unilateralism, argued for perfection in a multilateral compromise between the 27 member countries of the European Union. Apparently ignorant of the impact of their armchair prognostications could have on a small economy so dependent on inward investment and international trade, the same individuals remain in their high-paid positions, as tens of thousands of people have faced the misery of unemployment in the interval.
As for sovereignty, who is filling the gap between annual public spending of €63.9 billion (€56.6 billion for current spending and €7.3 billion for capital projects) and tax receipts of €34 billion, never mind the issue of foreign firms being responsible for 90% of Ireland's exports?
Finfacts article Dec 2008: A second Irish referendum to ratify the Lisbon Treaty and Bismarck's carriage- - "The great powers of our time," the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck told a Russian diplomat in 1879, "are like travellers unknown to each other, whom chance has brought together in a carriage. They watch each other and when one of them puts his hand into his pocket, his neighbour gets ready his own revolver, in order to be able to fire the first shot."
The Galway Independent reports that Declan Ganley has said the Fianna Fáil proposal to join the Liberal group in the European Parliament, calls into question the party's commitment to Galway farmers. According to Ganley, the Liberal group has traditionally been hostile to farming interests and their co-ordinator on the EU Parliament's agriculture committee, Niels Busk MEP said in 2007 that "direct support to farmers must be further reduced."
"This decision raises very serious questions about Fianna Fáil's commitment to Galway farming families. It is extraordinary that while Fianna Fail candidates here at home pronounce their commitment to rural Ireland, their new friends in the EU Parliament are relying on their votes to further cut supports to farm families in this time of economic hardship," Ganley said.
He said this had to be taken in conjunction with the withholding of grant payments under the Farm Pollution Grants Scheme.
"Libertas remains absolutely committed to the values and beliefs and way of life of rural Ireland. We won't be going to Brussels to make friends, we'll be going to fight for farm families and make sure that big corporate lobbyists are held to account," Ganley concluded.
In an article published by a US foreign policy think-tank in 2003, Ganley wrote: "By mindlessly spending over half of the EU’s €89bn budget on a Common Agricultural Policy, when a fraction of that capital invested more wisely into those same communities would provide for greater incomes, higher living standards and zero dependence on farm subsidies. Think of the improvements in Europe’s social, economic and security infrastructure with an extra €40bn available and managed efficiently and accountably."
"The European Common Agricultural Policy, which, because of its trade barriers and subsidisation, will result in thousands of deaths around the world in 2003."
What has changed in the interval, apart from Ganley's desire to become a politician? As for"corporate lobbyists," I would guess he would more likely encounter such a specie in Washington DC than in Brussels or Strasbourg.
The Financial Times said last week, that so far Ganley "has presented few specific policies beyond calling for a €10bn ($13bn, £9bn) cut in the EU’s annual budget and promises to encourage small business. Libertas has yet to release a detailed manifesto."
The FT said Ganley is banking on an Obama-inspired campaign website to raise money and unleash a grassroots movement.
“Whether or not Brussels recognises Libertas is the least of my concerns,” Ganley said. “We’re coming – whether they like it or not.”
If Ganley achieves his ambition to become a European politician, there is little doubt that what he will offer, is old politics with merely a new label - - but at what cost for Ireland?