You can almost see it - an Irish politician scolding his bold child with the threat of ‘I’ll send you to Declan Ganley if you don’t behave yourself!’
An exaggeration? Irish politicians have sought to turn Declan Ganley and his Libertas organisation into a bogey man, a kind of Great Satan in regards to all things EU. In their view Ganley - and Ganley alone - is the sole reason Ireland voted No to Lisbon.
This of course is nonsense. Libertas was one, but only one of the reasons Ireland voted No. There were many others on the No side who played their part, but the biggest culprit was on the Yes side - the Government.
When you have Ireland’s EU Commissioner boasting that he did not read the Treaty and that anyone who did was insane, what did the Government expect? Politicians demanded we vote Yes, but the only reason given was that we must, there was no ‘why’.
Many voted No because they felt the Treaty had not been properly explained to them and could not, in good conscience, vote for it when with so many questions left unanswered. Also the Yes side (yet again ) did not expect a vigourous No campaign and just took a Yes vote for granted.
You can bet Brian Cowen did not explain or admit any of that when summonsed to Brussels to explain himself after the No verdict was passed.
Now Ireland will have to vote again. It says little for the EU that you must keep voting until you come up with the answer it wants. Those Irish politicians who say a re-run of Lisbon is legitimate/democratic/fair are only feeding into the suspicion that the EU has a serious “democratic deficit”, is more concerned with looking after its quangos and MEPs, and really isn’t too bothered about what its citizens think.
With Libertas now registered as an electoral party it will be interesting to see if/how many candidates it will run in next year’s European elections. If any run in the North-West EU constituency (which includes Galway ) it will provide an interesting bit of spice to a region whose MEPs are devoted Europhiles.
With the Government having lost Nice I, Lisbon I, public confidence in their handling of the economy, and public trust in cowering to demands for a Lisbon re-run, you would hope it will enter the fray with the experience and hard earned knowledge of how to sell an EU treaty to the Irish people. You’d hope - but don’t bet on it.