Declan Ganley must be wondering where it all went wrong.

A year ago, Libertas seemed unstoppable. But it’s a party in name only, without grassroots membership, unable even to supply a copy of its constitution (I know, I asked).

Libertas is in trouble. Caroline Simons is statistically invisible in Dublin, Ray O’Malley barely registers in Leinster, and proxy candidate Kathy Sinnott will struggle to take the final seat in Munster.

Even the Chairman himself is languishing at at the back of the pack in Ireland Northwest, far behind Pat the Cope Gallagher and Jim Higgins – both of whom seem safe – and Marian Harkin.

Expect a whispering campaign, as Libertas goes negative in a bid to dislodge Harkin from third spot.

As usual, most coverage has ignored the margin of error, 2% at a national level, 4% when one gets down to the constituencies. One effect of this has been to write a premature obituary for Eoin Ryan, at 11% trailing behind Mary Lou McDonald (14%) in Dublin.

The truth is, that 3%gap is a statistical dead heat, and Ryan has a much better change of attracting second and third preferences than does Mary Lou.

It’s all to play for.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.


  1. I just read up on this Libertas party for the first time just now. Why is that Ireland always has to export Embarrassment?

  2. In this case, there’s a widespread belief (whether accurate or not) that we imported the embarrassment, with either British eurosceptics or American neo-cons blamed as the culprits. Some of the candidates Libertas have chosen to back in other countries suggest that any embarrassment is not solely an Irish experience either.

  3. According to,

    Libertas is now a pan-European party. Its European headquarters is in Moyne Park, Tuam, County Galway. Its founder is Irishman, Declan Ganley. Apparently, his deputy is former Danish Eurosceptic MEP, Jens Peter Bonde who manages the Brussels Office. I’m all for Irish people taking leadership positions but this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. Czech Eurosceptic President, Vaclav Klaus, has given his blessing. He is apparently refusing to give his Presidential assent to the Lisbon treaty in the Czech Republic which had already been ratified by its Chamber of Deputies and its Senate.

    According to the webpage above, when publicly announced in December 2008, the party had ambitions to field up to 400 candidates and win seats in all 27 member states.

  4. I know you’re a bit of a distance from home Paul, so maybe a bit of background might help.

    Libertas is barely a political party at all. It has no members, only a few pieces of paper logded with the Registrar of Political Parties at Leinster House. It’s local canvassers are mostly paid employees, and it’s phone banks are apparently staffed by 15 “volunteers” who plan to call 100,000 homes in six weeks (do the maths). They have no local election candidates running, no candidates running in the byelections, and it’s interesting that they aren’t running any candidate in Munster, home of MEP Kathy Sinnott, who shares their anti-EU views.

    For the record, I rang Libertas last week and said I was interested in their organisation, and asking for the name of my local branch so I could join. Libertas referred me to a guy in Louth (I’m in Kildare) who is running Ray O’Malley’s campaign. So I said, don’t you have a branch in Kildare. No, I was told, they’re a young party and still setting up. So I offered to set up a branch, asked for a copy of the constitution so I could set one up in compliance with the party rules, and was told they didn’t have a copy. Throughout the call, I got lots of hard sell attempts to recruit me as a campaign worker, and absolutely no information on the party, it’s structures, or how to become a member. And this is a party that shouts from the rooftops about transparency.

  5. Okay, maybe, I’m misunderstanding you. Prior to the Lisbon referendum in June 2008, there was Libertas Institute Limited, a lobby group, founded by Declan Ganley. This group lobbied successfully against ratification by the Irish people of the Lisbon treaty. Post Lisbon treaty referendum, Declan Ganley set up a new organization, Libertas, as a pan-European political party.

    As you report, it looks like Libertas, the pan-European political party, aren’t going to do well in the Republic of Ireland. It looks like they won’t win any seats – which is good of course. And, hopefully, Kathy Sinnott is on her way out in Munster too.

    But, there’s a difference between the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the E.U. In the Republic of Ireland, the electorate know that there will be another referendum on the Lisbon treaty where they will have another opportunity to vote yes or no. The electorate in the rest of the EU don’t have this luxury. So, for some of them, voting for Libertas parties or Libertas-affiliated parties, will be a means of protest. In the Republic of Ireland, such a vote of protest won’t be necessary at this stage until the Lisbon treaty again is put to a vote, I think, a little later this year.

    So, I think it’s very possible Libertas will do very well in other countries (electing several MEPs) , though not in Ireland. Declan Ganley, an Irishman, is the founder of Libertas, the pan-European political party, and that’s what I meant when I wrote that Ireland is exporting embarrassment.

  6. Paul, it isn’t going to happen.

    The best chance Libertas have of a seat is the Ireland NorthWest contituency, where independent polls show Ganley has about a 9% vote share (and Ganley on RTE news this evening claimed an internal party poll showed he would top the poll or come second).

    In Europe, Libertas are lucky to score 1% anywhere (that’s about their vote share in Dublin too) and will not get seats. For a pan-EU “party”, Libertas hasn’t quite figured out that it needs to have the same policies in every EU country. The anti-immigration message from Libertas in Ireland isn’t playing too well in Poland, for example.

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