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Libertas may field up to 30 candidates in EU vote

MULTI-millionaire Declan Ganley yesterday revealed plans for an audacious bid to take his 'No to Lisbon' campaign across Europe as an organised political party.

The Libertas leader gave his strongest indication yet that his group would contest next year's European elections across the EU.

Mr Ganley again refused to say where Libertas was getting its funding from or how much it spent in the Lisbon Treaty referendum campaign.

But he did confirm Libertas was involved in preparing the ground for a European election run, and the group would need 30 MEPs from across the continent to be effective.

No firm decision has been made yet, but Mr Ganley clearly indicated one plan which would involve running candidates in several countries.

He was in Brussels yesterday to address an open meeting of MEPs in the European Parliament where he discussed the outcome of the Irish referendum on Lisbon.

Mr Ganley said a decision would probably be made on the elections in January 2009 and Libertas was about six steps away from being able to decide.

"In terms of what Libertas does, we are talking to lots of people, we are fact-finding, we are doing our research, we are fundraising and all of those things have to be done in proper order before you decide 'go' or 'no go' on any other move that we would take," he said.

Impact

Mr Ganley said a group would need to get at least 30 MEPs elected from its candidate base to make an impact in the European Parliament.

"You could be effective in here -- depending on how the other groups were formed -- you could be effective in here with 30 people.

"You'd be a lot more effective with a lot more people. The question is do you want to do that at all," he said.

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Mr Ganley yet again refused to say where Libertas got the money it spent over the course of the referendum campaign -- estimated to be well in excess of €1m.

He said the figures "bandied about" regarding the Libertas spend were untrue.

"We will disclose what we spent and how it was all resourced in full accordance with all of the regulations in the same way as all of the other parties are required to do. I didn't make the rules, they did," he said.

Rules

Spending and donations rules for non-parties mean Mr Ganley does not have to say where the money spent came from.

Mr Ganley said he was aware of the law and when asked directly when he was going to publicly disclose where Libertas got its money, he responded: "When the regulations require us to do so."

Mr Ganley said he didn't know if he himself would run as a candidate.

"I don't know. I would find it difficult to. I'm not a natural politician.

"I would be reluctant to. I don't feel like a politician, but I don't know what other politicians feel like," he said.

The wealthy businessman said he didn't know how much money would be needed to run an election campaign across Europe.

"The thing is to avoid any ability to open ourselves up to false accusations of, you know, being funded by one person or overseas organisations or any of this stuff.

"The big overseas money in this campaign all came from the 'Yes' side and it came from the European Parliament groups that were funding the 'Yes' side," he said.

When asked when a firm decision would he taken, he replied: "It's probably January."

"It wouldn't be a matter of talking to groups. It would be a matter of talking to individuals across Europe in terms of resources and whether or not there was a need and anything that would be constructive that we could offer to the debate in different member states across the European Union. And as I say, that is a decision that is very far from being made just yet," he added.


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