17th Jun 2019

Libertas leader to run in European elections

  • Mr Ganley is to run in the North West of Ireland (Photo: EUobserver)

The head of the anti-treaty Libertas group, Declan Ganley, has announced he will run for a seat in the European Parliament in the June elections.

The announcement that he will contest a seat in the North West of Ireland puts an end to months of speculation about whether Mr Ganley, a business man who last year led a successful campaign against the Lisbon treaty in Ireland, would take the ultimate step by personally entering the political arena.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"We have to wake up in this country and realise that being in favour of Europe does not mean being in favour of everything Brussels wants," Mr Ganley told supporters on Saturday evening (12 March), reports the Irish Times.

Mr Ganley, who during the pre-referendum campaign played on fears about Ireland losing its tax sovereignty under the Lisbon treaty, said his group was against the treaty "not because we opposed Europe, but because we opposed its direction.

"A vote for us is not a vote against Brussels, it is a vote against those in Brussels who ignore you, don't listen to you, and don't care about you."

Since the June No vote, Mr Ganley has been trying to put together a political force at the European level, often saying he wants the upcoming European elections to be a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, which introduces new institutional rules for the bloc, including an EU foreign minister, more powers to the European Parliament and a different decision-making system.

So far, Libertas has had mixed results on its pan-European endeavour, pulling together an assortment of people - often with no political experience - who do not always appear to share the same values.

Its French platform launched last week saw it unite Movement for France (MPF), headed by the right-wing Philippe de Villiers, with the traditionalist Hunting, Fishing, Nature and Tradition (CPNT) parties. Mr Villiers used the launch to cite a litany of complaints against Europe and to call for more protectionism.

The German branch meanwhile lacks major names, something expected to negatively affect its outcome in the traditionally pro-European country.

The Polish Libertas branch is expected to run people under the right-wing Roman Catholic League of Polish Families party, the nationalist Roman Catholic Mlodziez Wszechpolska youth movement, the left-wing farmers' party Self-defence, Stronnictwo Piast, a left-wing peasants' group, and the deregulation-focused UPR party.

Libertas in the UK is headed by Robin Matthews, a former British Soldier. But with Britain already fertile ground for euroscepticism, it faces competition at the urns from the UK Independence Party, advocating withdrawal from the EU and the Conservatives, also against the Lisbon treaty and further EU integration.


Its attempts to recruit Swedish Eurosceptic Junilistan party went awry after allegations appeared in Swedish newspapers that Libertas tried to seal the political merger with money.

Soren Wibe, the leader of Junilistan, claimed that almost €1 million was offered by Libertas representatives, although not by Mr Ganley himself.

Meanwhile, Libertas' move to establish the party as a European political party, entitling it to EU funds, ended in fiasco.

Shortly after having made the application to be a pan-European party, requiring representation in seven member states and an adherence to democratic principles, its list of signatories quickly became invalid when two politicians, from Estonia and Bulgaria, withdrew support. Libertas claimed they had been subject to pressue. The matter remains unresolved.

Libertas has also attracted controversy in Ireland. Mr Ganley quickly built up the group into a high-profile and well-organised force, largely considered responsible for the country's No vote.

But there have been several questions about the source of Libertas' funding. Last week, Ireland's ethics watchdog, Standards in Public Office (SIPO), added fuel to the fire by saying that it did not provide it with enough information about its campaign, particularly on donations.

The US angle

It also made specific reference to Rivada Networks LTD, Mr Ganley's communications technology company, which has in the past supplied the US military. Some of Rivada's employees worked for Libertas. The anti-Treaty group says they did so on a voluntary basis but SIPO says it has not received detailed information on the matter, despite a request.

Mr Ganley's opponents claim his anti-Lisbon stance reflects his close connection with US industrial military interests, something he has always rejected.

He says Libertas is being subject to undue scrutiny because of the result of the referendum, which shocked the political establishment in Brussels and sparked muttering about Ireland's ungratefulness.

A second referendum on the treaty is due in autumn, with recent polls suggesting Irish citizens are more inclined to back the document amid the tumultuous economic problems in the country.


The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of

Scientists say there is no acceptable dose to avoid brain damage. Its use is banned in several European countries. Yet its residues are found in fruit baskets, on dinner plates, and in human urine samples from all over Europe.


Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK

A summit in Belgian capital this week will host heads of government and state to discuss top EU institutional posts. But before they meet, the jockeying for the Commission presidency will have already started among the European political groups.

EP parties planning 'coalition agenda' ahead of jobs summit

Political bosses of the European Parliament's groups, hoping to assemble a majority coalition, are eyeing putting forward an political agenda - and possibly a name for the commission top job - before EU leaders gather in Brussels.

MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower

Ana Gomes, a socialist MEP from Portugal, has accused national authorities of erring on the side of corruption by detaining a whistleblower who helped expose tax evasion by some of Europe's biggest football stars.


Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC

Juan Branco is a lawyer and co-author of a legal document submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) accusing EU officials and member states of crimes against humanity for their migration policies. "Some people should have to go to prison."


Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue

Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comin currently live outside Spain. They were prosecuted for the serious crimes, and they have fled justice. It is not possible to judge in absentia in Spain, where the justice system protects the rights of defendants.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  2. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of
  3. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation
  4. Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK
  5. EP parties planning 'coalition agenda' ahead of jobs summit
  6. MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower
  7. Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue
  8. Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us