Declan Ganley gave an interview to one of the Irish Sunday paper. Now if you’re like myself and don’t want to touch the Irish Mail on Sunday with a mile long bargepole but still want to read the interview it’s a frustrating wait until it becomes available online (if it does at all).
NOTE: The complete article has just become available online so I have copied it here.
Declan Ganley divides public opinion like no other national figure.
Like him or loathe him, there’s no disputing that his Libertas movement resonated with the electorate during both Lisbon referendums.
For sure, the Galway-based entrepreneur’s ambitious plan for a pan-European party was a failure.
Yet Ganley himself – despite suffering much personal vilification as part of an orchestrated attack on his character – came agonisingly close to becoming an MEP after polling almost 70,000 first preferences in last year’s European elections.
With such an impressively high vote for a first-time candidate, it’s no wonder bookies are offering odds as short as 5/4 for him to win a seat in the impending general election – and that’s in the face of his continued reiteration that he has no intention of running.
So what will the odds be cut to today when the bookies read in this exclusive interview that Ganley’s determination not to stand is wavering?
‘I’m open to the possibility at some point in the future. Of course, you don’t rule anything out. It’s unwise to close doors in life because you don’t know what’s going to happen,’ he reveals.
‘Right now, I have a duty to family and a focus on business – and I like it. But do I like seeing the state my country is in? No. It alarms me. It terrifies me. If you’re not angry, you don’t know what’s going on.
‘I’m passionate about my family, my business, my country and the European project – despite what my detractors falsely state. And all of those things are interlinked.
‘It’s our duty as citizens to get involved in any way that we can to bring about the kind of change that is going to take us on a path to long-term growth and for the security, prosperity and access to opportunities for our children.’
When I ask if he’s been asked by his supporters to return to politics, Ganley shows me some of the huge amount of emails and letters he’s been inundated with.
‘People are asking me to return to the political battlefield. I really don’t like politics per se because so many people see it as a game of chess, an exercise that is Machiavellian, a living board game and a way of life. But I’m passionate about my country.’
Ganley isn’t interested in joining any existing party and admits he wouldn’t be content to run as an independent and warm the backbenches.
‘I haven’t been approached by any political party. I think the regard in which I hold the current crop of political parties is more than apparent.
‘I wouldn’t think they’d waste the money on a phone call.’
However, Ganley believes ‘there are good people in all parties who are unhappy and want a better programme for their energies’.
And he adds: ‘I would encourage all those politicians and others who are voicing their disillusionment and dissatisfaction to reach out to each other and discuss how best to give the electorate a genuine alternative.’
If he does return to the fray, such comments clearly point to him re-forming Libertas – this time as an Irish-focused political party.
In his strongest hint that he’s considering such a move, he says: ‘If we have a general election tomorrow, what will we get? We already know the answer.
‘Do you like the answer to that question? If you don’t, you’d better not ask it – just yet.
‘A new party could offer recovery, renewal, rebirth, change. It would put the country back on its economic feet and give the people hope and something to look up to, give us something to be proud of.
‘It would give us something that we can present to the world and say, “That’s us. That’s Ireland. This is what we stand for. This is our leadership. This is the place to build businesses and prosper’.
‘We need to map out a serious, credible alternative path, because one thing the markets have very clearly said is that they do not have any faith in the Irish political establishment – and that includes the Opposition leadership of Kenny.
‘Fortunately, no one in the international financial market knows yet about the Labour Party – hopefully we can keep that quiet!
‘If a new government could step into place with fresh leadership that was not part of the old political cartel, it would restore confidence.
‘The future belongs to those who show up for it. We must seek excellence, to want to be the best, to believe we have something better to offer and that we can achieve anything we are capable of imagining.
‘I believe the Irish are capable of anything we set our minds to. We have to lift our eyes above the horizon.
‘We don’t have good leadership. We need leadership that is capable of instilling or inspiring both the ethic and the vision that will pull us out of the mire.’
Unlike the Opposition, Ganley disagrees that an election is now urgently needed.
‘We need the time to prepare ourselves to be able to give a proper, credible answer to the questions that will be posed in the general election.
‘Does anybody really believe that Kenny or Gilmore are capable of leading this country out of the mire and into serious recovery and invigoration?
‘It really is a case of dumb and dumber. A Fine Gael/Labour coalition is going to carry on the same failed path.
‘It’s heartbreaking to see what we accept for political leadership. I don’t think there’s anyone in this country who actually thinks that what we have – either in power or on offer – is capable of leading us.
‘Brian Cowen is a tragic figure. He has been a catastrophic Taoiseach and Brian Lenihan has been a catastrophic finance minister.
‘I don’t want to hear again about the ‘genius’ of Lenihan. Rubbish! The IMF came in on his watch. Shame on him!
‘Now, in the same category I will put Kenny, Gilmore and all of the usual suspects who sat around like guests at the Mad Hatter’s tea party.
‘We saw it in the crucial debate here on the future of Europe, when all the parties rallied together and lied through their teeth to the people.’
Ganley has a track record of predicting specific details of the fiscal abyss we now face.
He accurately foresaw the collapse of the banks and property sector as far back as March 2007 in a speech at NUI Galway.
And a clip on YouTube from two years ago shows him forewarning that the bond market would cause ‘carnage’ and that it would ‘all end in tears’ for our economy.
Today, Ganley says he has ‘no doubt’ that Ireland ‘will be coerced’ into changing its corporate tax rate.
He says: ‘Of course it may be spun as an Irish idea, with a gradual so-called adjustment to EU norms.
The other possibility is that it will be brought in the back door, leaving the headline rate at 12.5% but hitting corporations’ bottom line in the same way.
‘They want to end our competitive advantage and to do that, they need to drop their rate or raise ours – and the current crop in Brussels are wedded to high taxes because without them, they’ve no resources with which to buy support for their bankrupt model of governance.
‘Europe’s current solution is like an unemployed pensioner using a loan shark to make ends meet. If you don’t like what Olli Rehn is doing, what can you do about it? Nothing.
‘But he is much more important now in Irish affairs than almost anybody you get to vote for here.
‘This so-called bail-out – in reality, a loan – was not done in the interests of Ireland.
‘A gun was held to our head and we were given artificial deadlines. Yet everybody in Ireland knows we didn’t have to go back to the markets.
‘Years ago, Bob Geldof organised Band Aid for Africa; now Irish taxpayers are being forced to pay the gambling debts of Europe’s bondholders – call it Bond Aid for Brussels!
‘It was about the eurozone. Ireland’s economic interest was -sacrificed. Within a day, it was proven not to have worked. Bond spreads widened and the euro fell.’
The next election should be a referendum, he says – one that offers us ‘the same destructive path’ or an alternative, radical approach of taxpayers refusing to bail out the ‘failed bond exchange gamblers’.
He says the country ‘desperately needs a return to people power’ and cites the 19th-century Land League, which campaigned to abolish landlordism in Ireland and brought about a ‘mass default’ on rents paid to British landlords, as an inspiration.
‘It’s sort of amusing: last week, I bought the internet address land-league.ie for less than €30. I suspect it might have a better chance of delivering debt relief and recovery to the people of Ireland than our €85bn sell-out negotiators.
‘The playing field has to change. The Government and Opposition are all in cahoots, saying the families of Ireland must pay for these mistakes. But we can say, “Excuse me! This was not our risk. It belongs to those who stood to make a profit from it”.
‘What would happen if a half million people refused to take the full brunt of this tax burden any more?
‘The result would be to force these banks into a renegotiation. And that would force a renegotiation with the bondholders. At that point, everyone gets to renegotiate – including the families and consumers of Ireland.
‘The next election should be a referendum on these issues: do we renegotiate with these failed bondholders?
‘Do we renegotiate to decouple this -gangrenous limb of the zombie banks?
‘Or do you stand with the failed establishment, bondholders and banks in saying that people should accept this parcel of failed risk and management?
‘The people have to be offered a serious choice: real change and reform with a new party, or more of the same. Kenny and Gilmore are more of the same with a slightly different pitch.
‘A new party could offer real growth, real innovation, real reform – something that will make Europe and the world pay attention.’
He believes the first precondition of any new party going into coalition should be to ‘wind up’ Nama, which he calls a ‘pawn shop’ for the ECB.
‘We need to re-bank the country. You can see them shovelling cash out of healthy State pension funds to fuel the existing bank furnace.
‘We shouldn’t be doing that. If we’re going to invest in banks, we should be putting it into new banks with low overheads and no skeletons in the closet.
‘We need to cut expenditure radically. We cannot sustain a public service of this size. One in four in the public sector need to go into the private sector. We need a bonfire of the quangos.
‘We have to foster the conditions for growth where small and medium enterprises can establish, can operate, can innovate and where we can attract foreign direct investment.
‘How do we do that? We make sure we have low taxes across the board. A flat tax would be a shot in the arm for the Irish economy.’
Any new party should include in its manifesto ‘term limits’, barring TDs and ministers from sitting for more than an agreed maximum number of terms in the Dáil, he says.
‘If we want to shake up and ¬decalcify politics here, we need to end career politics, which creates cosy relationships and fosters soft corruption.
‘For example, you should not be able to serve as taoiseach for more than two terms. Then you’re gone. Maybe three terms as a backbencher. We should also stop forced taxpayers funding of political parties.’
So he already has his manifesto, and he’s certain to win a seat. The only question is: can he unearth enough credible candidates to usher in the rebirth he insists we need?