Declan Ganley: Libertas pushed the No vote over the finishing line last time

They hail from the left, they hail from the right and some claim to Hail Mary with more vigour than the Catholic church. The groups opposed to the Lisbon treaty base their opposition on various different aspects of the document. The main players are as follows:

Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin has consistently opposed European treaties that are ostensibly designed to bring the constituent countries closer. The party was opposed to Ireland's entry into the EEC in 1973, and little has changed since.

One of its main platforms in this referendum is that the treaty will lead to further militarisation of the EU. Some might see this as ironic coming from an organisation associated with a private army that militarised this island beyond all recognition.

Mary Lou McDonald has fronted the current campaign, although her profile is not what it was when she was a serving MEP. Party president Gerry Adams, who retains a certain credibility in the Republic, has not been very prominent during this campaign.

The party has been dogged by rumours that sections within wanted the party to come out in favour of Lisbon. The view was that the party should have claimed credit for concessions won after the first vote and argued for a yes on that basis, not least because the wind was now with the yes side.

That argument was resisted by influential Dublin figures but, perhaps because of the disagreements, the party's campaign this time around has appeared aimless at times.


Cóir grew out of the violent fundamentalist outfit, Youth Defence. It had a highly successful first Lisbon campaign. Its posters of the three Chinese monkeys was one of the most eye-catching illustrations last year. It also used posters of the men of 1916, asking whether they had died for a federal Europe.

On the ground, Cóir was also able to draw on a large group of supporters who were energised by the campaign in a manner that few other groups were.

The group has attempted to repeat the shock tactics this time around, most notably with its poster declaring 'Minimum wage €1.84?', implying that wages could be lowered to that level. The claim has been totally discredited, but there is no knowing whether or not it's had an impact.

This time around Cóir has also produced a poster depicting an elderly person and a foetus, suggesting that the treaty will usher in abortion and euthanasia.

In political terms, Cóir is highly effective. The substance of its arguments, however, exposes the members as, quite frankly, fruitcakes. The Catholic bishops have made clear that there will be no change to Ireland's abortion status under Lisbon, and that it will not affect any other Catholic moral teachings.

Cóir, however, portrays itself as more Catholic than the guardians of the religion: the hierarchy has sold out, and it is Cóir's duty to protect the unborn and the elderly from the ravages of Europe. The group's impact, however, is not to be underestimated.


Ganley is Libertas, Libertas Ganley. Declan Ganley was the ace in the pack last time around. His status annoyed other No voters, particularly those on the left, although his campaign did interact with Cóir's at various stages.

However, while he didn't have huge support, a plausible theory is that his involvement pushed the No vote over the finishing line last time out. Libertas ran a highly effective advertising campaign, investing heavily in billboards around the country's main trunk roads. Libertas invested over €1.4 million in that campaign, and the source of the funds became highly controversial. As a political organisation, Libertas was restricted in how much it could raise from one individual or company. It never identified its donors, and there is a strong belief that it was largely funded by Ganley himself.

Ganley said he wouldn't get involved this time around after he failed to win a seat in June's European elections. Two weeks ago, however, he couldn't help himself. The limelight was calling. He has had much less impact this time, principally because he has lost credibility and the campaign has nothing like the resources of last time. Nobody knows exactly where he is coming from.

The Left

All manner of left-wing organisations are opposed to Lisbon. The Socialist Party, People before Profit, the Unite trade union, Peace And Neutrality Alliance, People's Movement and a whole range of smaller organisations and parties are campaigning for a No vote.

The main plank of their opposition is that the EU is creating a super-state in which corporate powers will be to the fore. Workers' rights motivated a large swathe of voters to tick No on the ballot paper last time around.

Their argument is somewhat undermined by the support of the majority of trade unions and ICTU itself for the treaty. However, most of the No voters on the left are adamant that interpretation of certain articles leaves no room for doubt. Lisbon is good for corporations, bad for workers.

Neutrality and militarisation are the other bugbears of the anti-Lisbon left. Research on the last referendum suggested some voters were worried about conscription. Those on the Yes side claim neutrality is not compromised, and that Ireland's only involvement in military operations would be in a defensive situation if another EU member was attacked.


The United Kingdom Independence party is resolutely anti-Johnny Foreigner. In that vein, it is asking Paddy to vote No as a step towards keeping Johnny Foreigner out of Old Blighty.

The UKIP arrived here a fortnight ago with its poster, 'Hello Lisbon, Hello Turkey, No Way'. UKIP also put it about that the Labour Court had issued a ruling that it was legal to pay non- national workers less than Irish workers. In a highly unusual move, the chairman of the Labour Court, Kevin Duffy, issued a statement saying the court had been "misrepresented for political purposes," and denied ever issuing such a ruling.