Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Great White

The great white

Tuam-based anti-Lisbon Treaty organisation Libertas appears to be gradually falling apart at the seams, with news in the past week that two of the signatories to the organisation’s bid for European political party status have disclaimed all knowledge of their part in the bid.

When Libertas burst onto the political scene early in 2008 it was seen as the great white hope for all those who worry about Ireland’s increasing reliance on and integration with Europe. Among the established Irish political parties, only Sinn Féin regularly and forcibly criticises Europe, while Labour and the Greens have been particularly quiet on this front since the Lisbon Treaty came on the agenda.

Once the Yes to Lisbon campaign limped, pathetically, into action, Libertas was cast in a different light. Suddenly the organisation and its charismatic founder, Declan Ganley, was a great white shark, out to destroy Ireland’s relationship with Europe and convince us that signing up to Lisbon would mean a return to foreign rule.

Since the defeat of the Lisbon Treaty referendum and the emergence of the greatest economic crisis of our generation, Libertas has begun to form plans for this year’s European elections, and has made links with politicians all over the European Union with the aim of becoming ‘the first pan-European political party’.

The progress of Libertas throughout Europe has been greeted with alarm by most national politicians, certainly by those who have taken time out from the economic morass to think about it.

However, since that time, the issue of Lisbon has become somewhat redundant (if you’ll pardon the pun). We are too worried about keeping our jobs, our homes and our lifestyles, to really think about the ideology behind a protectionist Europe and the EU Defence Forces. And the latest joke comparing Ireland to Iceland has shown us what side our bread is buttered on – there go we but for the protection offered by the Eurozone.

It seems that now the greatest danger to Libertas may not be the fact that its backers appear to be dropping like flies. The greatest danger for Ganley and Co may now lie in the organisation becoming irrelevant: a great white elephant.

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