From Powerbase
Jump to: navigation, search
Libertas EU logo, circa 2015, Credit: Libertas Netherlands

Libertas (registered as The Libertas Institute Limited) is a lobby group that successfully campaigned for a "no" vote to the 2008 referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon in Ireland.

History and organisation

Libertas was founded by UK born businessman Declan Ganley who currently resides in Abbeyknockmoy in County Galway. Ganley's first mention of Libertas was in a paper "Constitutional Treaty; A Threat to Democracy and How to Avoid it"[1]that he wrote for an American think tank the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in December 2003.

On the 15 July, 2008, Ganley spoke on the campaign at a Washington event hosted by Sally McNamara of the Heritage Foundation's Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom.[2]According to the Irish Times, "Mr Ganley sought to distance himself from the British Euroscepticism of his hosts, declaring that he believed in a common European foreign policy and favoured deeper political integration." Ganley also suggested that Libertas might contest the 2009 European elections.[3]

As of January 2008, the Libertas team consisted of group chairman Declan Ganley, executive director Naoise Nunn and campaign director David Cochrane.[4]Nunn resigned on 19 September 2008.[5]John McGuirk is the former communications director of Libertas.[6]

Lisbon Referendum Campaign

On 12 March 2008, Libertas launched a campaign called "Facts, not politics" which advocated a No vote in the referendum on Lisbon Treaty.[7] Libertas stated that they expected to spend in the region of €1.5m on the campaign.[8]

The Sunday Business Post reported that the group's efforts at projecting its warnings about the treaty in the media were "hugely successful".[9]Several politicians, including Minister of State for European Affairs Dick Roche, clashed with the group's campaign stance.[10]

According to the Centre for European Reform's Hugo Brady the campaign targeted wavering moderates, the most critical votes for the referendum. The organisation argued that the membership to the European Union had been beneficial for Ireland, but the Lisbon Treaty would end that process by lowering the country's political clout in Brussels decision-making and increasing its low corporate taxes[11].

Following the referendum Declan Ganley, founder of Libertas, confirmed that Libertas was fundraising in order to run candidates in 2009 European Parliament elections throughout Europe[12].

Funding and controversy

Libertas is reported to be funded by private donations from Irish nationals.[13]Anonymous lobby funding of this type is legal under Irish law - although donations above a certain amount will have to be disclosed by the group after the referendum. The group said in May 2008 that Ganley and his wife had already donated the maximum amount of €6,300.[14]The other sources of Libertas funding had not yet been revealed at the time.[15]

Some analysts and politicians (including TD Lucinda Creighton)[16][17]questioned whether the Libertas leadership's close ties to US military interests[18][19]were a motivating factor in the movement's "No" campaign.[20]The fact that five of the seven members of Libertas[21]are reportedly employees of Rivada Networks, which provides communications technology to the US military,[22]led to some speculation as to the campaign drivers - including speculation that it was funded by US interests.[23]This speculation was further fuelled by comments in the US political establishment (including those by John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations)[24]that the Lisbon Treaty was at odds with US and NATO interests.[25] Libertas representatives rejected the claims that it's founder's business interests (including US defence contracts worth a reported €200m) had any bearing on the group's goals.[26]It further stated that its backers were "100% Irish"[27]and motivated by Irish interests only, and that claims the lobby group was swayed by the business interests of its founders or partners were unsubstantiated and "shameful".[28]

In separate interviews in September 2008, Ganley rejected claims that the group was actively engaged in political fundraising,[29]but disclosed that he had given €200,000 of his own money towards Libertas' anti-Lisbon treaty campaign.[30]

In November 2008, Libertas founder Declan Ganley held a press conference and dinner for Czech President Vaclav Klaus during an official visit to Dublin, an event that the Irish Government regarded as a breach of protocol. Following the event a spokesman for Libertas said it was in talks with the Eurosceptic French party Mouvement Pour La France (MPLF) about aligning itself to a Libertas pan-European party.[31]

The list of those who accepted an invitation to attend was as follows: Mr Declan Ganley; Mr Jens-Peter Bonde; Ms Jens-Peter Bonde Dr Hans-Peter Martin; Ms Caroline Simons; ambassador Tomas Kafka; First Lady Livia Klausova; guest of honour, Czech president Vaclav Klaus; Mr Gary Hunter; Mr Pat Flynn; Mr Robin Matthews; Mrs Frances Matthews; Mr David (Harry) Hewitt; Mrs Frances Hewitt; Mr Kevin O'Connell; Mrs Kevin O'Connell; Mr Philip Lee; Mr Denis Bergin; Mr John Hughes; Mrs Helen Hughes; Mr Darius Sobkow; Mr Christophe Beaudouin; Mr Philippe de Villiers; Mr Mike Feerick; Mr Jiri Weigl; Mr Jiri Brodsky; Ms Margaret Costigan; Mr Bruce Arnold; Mrs Mavis Arnold; Mr Anthony Coughlan; Mrs Muriel Coughlan; Mr Patrick Louis; Mr Constantin Gurdgiev; Ms Jennifer Hord; Mr Frank Fitzgibbon; Mrs Frank Fitzgibbon; Mr Tomas Pojar, Czech deputy minister for foreign affairs; Mr Ladislav Mravec; Mr John Reid; Fr Michael Ross; Mrs Anita Kelly; Mr Gerard Lawless; Mrs Catherine Reid; Mr Chris Coughlan; Mr Colum Coughlan; Mr Michael Ganley; Mrs Bernadette Ganley; Mrs Margaret Roarty; Mr Eamon Dunphy; Ms Jane Goggin; Mr Paul MacDonnell; Ms Catherine McCartney; Mr Damien Fallon; Mrs Fiona Fallon; Mr Alan Kennedy; Ms Marta Myskova (photographer); Mrs Libuse Schmidova; Mr David Cochrane; Mrs Norrie Keane; Mr John Smith; Ms Mary Durkin; Mr Martin Mulroy; Mrs Eilis Mulroy; Ms Claire O'Donoghue; Ms Evonne Corcoran; Mr Francis O'Flaherty; Mr Sean Ascough; Mr Tom Ascough; Mrs Jackie Ascough; Mr Martin Daly; Mrs Barbara Daly; Cllr Martin Ward; Mrs Martin Ward; Mr Sean Ganley; Mr Tommy Keane; Mrs Claire Keane; Mr John McGuirk; Mr Richard Waghorne; Mr Jason O'Toole; Mrs Agnieszka O'Toole; Mr Martin Alioth; Mrs Mary Finnegan; Mr John Lee; Mr Keith O'Grady; Mrs Zuzana Rìcov; Mr Jindrich Foreigt; Mr Radim Ochvat; Ms Kathy Sinnott; Mr David Fieldsend; Mr Jesper Katz; Mr Alan Campbell; Mr James Prior; Mr David Gray; Mr Keith Birch; and Mr Walter Patterson.[32]

External links


  1. Europe’s Constitutional Treaty: A Threat to Democracy and How to Avoid It, by Declan Ganley, Foreign Policy Research Institute, December 2003.
  2. No Means No: How Ireland Blocked the European Union's Lisbon Treaty, Heritage Foundation, accessed 9 November 2008.
  3. Libertas may contest European elections, by Denis Staunton, Irish Times, 16 July 2008.
  4. Libertas Staff, Libertas, via the Internet Archive, accessed 9 November 2008.
  5. Nationality of Libertas founder was listed as British in UK records, by Mark Hennessey, Irish Times, 222 September 2008.
  6. Substantial amount of funding for Libertas came from Ganley, by Colm Keena, Irish Times, 3 October 2008.
  7. Anti-Lisbon treaty campaign is launched, RTÉ News, 15 June 2008.
  8. Treaty camps matching each other in €3.5m splurge on poll, by Fiach Kelly Irish Independent, 15 May 2008.
  9. Who's who in the battle, by Pat Leahy, Sunday Business Post, 4 May 2008
  10. Lisbon Treaty will not curb veto rights on tax, says commission], by Mark Hennessy, The Irish Times, 29 April 2008.
  11. "Will the Irish Guillotine Lisbon?", Centre for European Reform Briefing Note, by Hugo Brady, June 2008
  12. Libertas may contest European elections by Denis Staunton, The Irish Times 16 July 2008.
  13. Martin accuses Libertas over Cowen criticism, RTE News,20 May 2008
  14. Libertas and its letters from Austria, The Sunday Business Post, 25 May 2008
  15. Martin accuses Libertas over Cowen criticism, RTE News,20 May 2008
  16. Self Serving US Military Agenda of Messrs Ganley and McEvaddy, Fine Gael press release, 25 April 2008
  17. Ireland Takes the EU Spotlight ,by Philippa Maister, PostGlobal,, June 12 2008.
  18. Most Libertas founders work for firm with military links, by Colm Keena, Irish Times, May 20, 2008
  19. Ganley business interests stretch far and wide, by Gavin Daly, Sunday Business Post, 15 June 2008.
  20. Ireland Takes the EU Spotlight ,by Philippa Maister, PostGlobal,, June 12 2008.
  21. Libertas and its letters from Austria, The Sunday Business Post, 25 May 2008
  22. Anti-Lisbon groups join forces to launch 'no' campaign, Belfast Telegraph, 20 May 2008
  23. Man who says no, by John Mulligan, Irish Independent, 7 June 2008
  24. Lisbon Treaty will undermine democracy, by Simon Johnson, Daily Telegraph, 9 June 2008
  25. Ireland Takes the EU Spotlight ,by Philippa Maister, PostGlobal,, June 12 2008.
  26. Anti-Lisbon guru’s €200m US military deal, by Paul O'Brien, Irish Examiner, 18 September 2008
  27. Martin accuses Libertas over Cowen criticism, RTE News,20 May 2008
  28. Creighton comments shameful, Libertas press release, accessed 11 November 2008
  29. "Libertas chief denies political fundraising", by Colm Keena, Irish Times, 6 September 2008.
  30. Ganley gave Libertas €200k for campaign, by Paul O'Brien and Mary Regan, Irish Examiner, 19 September 2008.
  31. [Czech president backs Libertas line at meeting with Ganley], by Harry McGee, Irish Times, 12 November 2008.
  32. EU opponents invited to Ganley dinner], by DÉAGLÁN DE BRÉADUN, Irish Times, 13 November 2008.