Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lisbon-parties' hypocrisy on funding

Even before the Irish people's democratic decision to reject the fatally-flawed Lisbon Treaty, (which would have deepened the democratic-deficit in Europe still further), the source of Libertas funding was a bane of "yes" campaigners. To the elite, the possibility of the 'mainstream' parties being so decisively outspent by this upstart pro-business group with financial interests abroad (like many FF/FG benefactors) with no elected representatives was tantamount to heresy. Note the observations of the 'Paper of Record' on the matter today: "Of the €11.8 million spent during the last general election campaign, less than €2 million could be publicly traced. This gap in legislation can encourage external meddling in our domestic affairs. Spending by the "No" campaign in the Lisbon referendum, and particularly by Libertas, exceeded that of all the major parties. But we will never know the source of the money." To be lectured on outside interference by a newspaper whose support for the Treaty, if realised, would have led to unprecedented outside interference in our internal affairs by Europe and by the European Court of Justice in particular (through the Charter of Fundamental Rights), is very ironic. But the gift of irony is not lost on the other mouthpieces of the European federalist project either. The eternal Dick Roche, Minister for European Affairs and arguably the face of Fianna Fáil's "yes" campaign, charges that statements by Libertas' about it's funding are "simply not truthful". According to figures compiled by the Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland (IAPI), which monitors advertising spend in the outdoor and print media, on the internet, on TV and in cinemas, the anti-Lisbon Treaty group spent €912,753 on advertisements in places such as newspapers, billboards and on buses. Throughout the campaign, the organisation, responding to different media, gave differing figures about its budget, before finally settling on a €1.3 million figure, insisting that the money had come in small donations." It is clear that if you add up the figures that the budget must have been above €2 million," Mr Roche claimed. "It comes back to the question, where did they get their money from?". Labour spokesman Joe Costello likewise slates the organisation as: "It is unacceptable that a single wealthy individual whose business interests are largely based outside this country should be able to use his wealth to influence the outcome of a constitutional referendum and at the same time not have to disclose the source of the funding.".

The "yes" side are the last people with a right to lecture others on fundraising. The report of the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) for 2007 is instructive. They found that the State’s 14 registered Dáil political parties disclosed just 13 per cent of what they claimed they spent in their General Election campaigns. Sipo said political parties disclosed donations worth €266,485. Sinn Féin and the Greens received €187,223 and €29,750 respectively from their elected representatives. Fianna Fáil and Labour each disclosed three donations totalling €19,044 and €18,648 respectively. Both Fine Gael and the Progressive Democrats furnished no donation statements. Fine Gael has filed no disclosures since 2001. Political-parties are only required to disclose political donations over €5,079. The report indicates that Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour, Sinn Féin, the Greens and the PDs spent €10.2 million in last year's General Election - te vast majority of which is undeclared. Fine Gael’s representatives and unsuccessful candidates disclosed in donations just 7% (€191,095) of what was actually spent, compared to 18% for Fianna Fáil (€648,000) and 1.6% (€8,079) for the Progressive Democrats. People in glass-houses shouldn't throw stones. The right to fundraise should not be the preserve of elected officials, who all too often in world history have been shown to be prone to inducements to act and advocate against the public good, as the Act of Union and the French parliament's 1940 vote to establish the Vichy Regime show. We must never return to the dark says preceding the McKenna judgement which removed the ability of yes campaigns in referenda to crowd out dissenting voices by monopolising both fundraising and airtime to peddle propaganda for their causes.

1 comment:

kerdasi amaq said...

Shows how desperate they are, and how out of touch they are with the public sentiment.

Foreign interference eh? I suspect that Brian Cowen wants to be a 'land agent' for a European landlord. To get that position, he has to con the Irish People into transferring their title deeds to Brussels.