It was interesting to be in Ireland on Wednesday discussing what may happen about Lisbon. I also learnt more about Declan Ganley, leader of the No campaign and his mysterious organisation “Libertas”. Links to information on him can be found at this most interesting site
It shows that far from being a small businessman from the west of Ireland, Declan Ganley appears to be highly involved in a network of big businesses with military interests, usually based in Britain, and closely connected to US defence and intelligence networks. Many of the personalities in these networks can be described as “neo-conservative” in the American sense, and hostile to any degree of European integration that might offer a different view to the most belligerent unilateralist wing of the American Republican party.
The company he keeps in Europe is also right wing and Eurosceptic. At his meeting of 2 September at the European Parliament in Brussels, he was flanked by UK Tory arch-eurosceptic Dan Hannan, most of the UKIP MEPs and MEPs from Jean Marie Le Pen’s Front Nationale and the Vlaams Belang.
What is Libertas?
In December 2003, Ganley mentioned in an article in the American publication Foreign Policy Research Institute entitled “Europe's Constitutional Treaty: a threat to democracy and how to avoid it” that he supported the creation of a new political party (“I will for the sake of discussion call it Libertas”, he wrote) to campaign for a new Europe that would be a “partner” for the USA rather than “try to define itself in contradiction to the United States.”
Libertas Institute Ltd. was set up in October 2006. Five of its seven members worked for a company called Rivada Networks, Ganley's firm in the field of military security technology. The other two were his brother Sean and Chris Coughlin of Hewlett Packard Ireland. Libertas presents itself as a think-tank, but until 2007 there was no sign of any intellectual activity. It seems to have had the same telephone number as Rivada Networks.
Yet this “think-tank” managed to outspend the three main political parties of Ireland (Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Labour Party) in the Irish referendum according to the Irish European Minister, he spent some €2 million.
Where that money came from is a mystery. Under current laws, Libertas does not have to declare where money came from or even how much was spent, as it is not classed as a political party. Political parties on the other hand must declare detailed spending and donation returns. The Irish government, as a result, is set to change its ethics laws so that other groups must also declare the source of their funding.
Ireland’s ethics laws do set limits on the amount an individual donor can give to a political group, such as Libertas in any one year, which is €6,348.69. Ganley has admitted that he provided funds of €200,000 to Libertas’ campaign, but this was only a “loan”. Loans can be made as long as they are "bona fide", according to the Standards in Public Office Commission, who are now likely to investigate whether or not Ganley’s loan is legitimate.
What is Rivada Networks?
Declan Ganley’s Rivada Networks designs and operates communications and information technology networks for security forces. The multinational corporation has Declan Ganley as its chairman and chief executive. Other board members include a number of retired or active US military (a General, an Admiral, a Rear Admiral) and Bush administration members.
Rivada Networks boasts some high level American military and security organisations as major clients. Among them are the United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), the National Guard Bureau, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Ganley’s other companies
Ganley appears to have set up at least 9 companies in the UK and 11 in Ireland over the past 18 years. Many of them have been renamed or dissolved. Why?
Ganley Group International is registered at 128 Mount Street, London, near the US Embassy and with an innocuous antique shop on its ground floor. At the same address was Paladin Capital, specialising in Homeland security investment and worth over $900 million. Chairman of its advisory board is James Woolsey, former Director of the CIA.
Also at this address, is the Anglo Adriatic Investment Fund. This was involved between 1995 and 1997 in the privatisation programme in Albania. It will be recalled that the second phase of Albanian privatisation featured significant criminal activity in the pyramids financing scheme which broke the back of the Albanian economy and caused civil unrest in which over 2000 people died.
Ganley calls for all out war against Iran
In 2006, when there seemed a possibility that British and American forces might be pulled out of Iraq, Declan Ganley, whose company Rivada Networks has lucrative contracts with the American military, argued that if Iraq and Iran were to be tamed “full mobilisation for war would have to be carried out, complete with drafts, rationing and all of what Churchill referred to as the ‘blood, toil, tears and sweat’ that it takes to secure overwhelming victory.” And on the diplomatic efforts to try and avoid war: “As the US and Europe start yet another round of dialogue with Syria and Iran, the Mullahs are rolling around laughing behind closed doors — they did not cave in when we had leverage, now they will declare ‘the Emperor has no clothes’.” According to the Irish Examiner, Ganley said that Iran was near guaranteed to acquire nuclear weapons with little resistance and that only all-out war could tame both Iraq and Iran.
Ganley’s apparent thirst for all out war with Iran and an increased effort against Iraq is made all the more curious by the fact that one of Libertas’ main anti-Lisbon Treaty themes was the incorrect claim that the Lisbon Treaty would lead to an increase in the militarisation of Europe. Now we find out that Ganley has been criticising Europe for exactly the opposite – not being militarised enough. So does Ganley want more or less militarisation in Europe, or does that depend on whether or not he’s trying to win political battles or secure contracts for his business?
Is Declan Ganley actually Irish?
The nationality of Declan Ganley has come into question after Irish Minister of State, Dick Roche, revealed that Ganley had stated that his nationality was British on company records for nearly a decade, before changing it to Irish in 2006 (coincidently just as the debate over the constitutional future of Europe was beginning). Ganley, who claims to be from Galway in the west of Ireland, also stated that his address was in London during this period. Mr Roche said Ganley, who was born in London to Irish parents "likes to wrap himself in the tricolour whenever he faces any form of query or interrogation on issues like this [the debate on the Lisbon Treaty] … if you look at some companies you [Ganley] register yourself as an Irish citizen when it suits and register yourself as a UK citizen in other cases.”
Labels: eurosceptics, Ireland, Referendums, reform treaty