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Declan Ganley, snakeoil salesman

Libertas' mystery is now being seen as murk

The honeymoon is over for Declan Ganley and brand “Libertas”. But the brand‘s keeper, having being carried grinning over the publicity threshold by the sycophantic initial media coverage, is none too happy about it.

In fact he seems to be verging on a paranoia which is shared, for example, by one of the latest “successful applicants” to join “team Libertas”. Kevin O’Connell, a former deputy director of Europol, has been taken on board to represent Libertas in the UK. O’Connell was employed by Declan Ganley’s group last year as a “security advisor”, whose role included “vetting staff and potential candidates”, as well as monitoring the press coverage that was becoming of mounting concern to Ganley. Ganley was troubled by what he labelled “conspiracy theories” surrounding his American business contracts and the funding of his Lisbon treaty campaign.

O’Connell, apparently unperturbed by any possible conflict of interest, concluded that Ganley, “has been the subject of a sustained and co-ordinated information campaign intended to destroy his political credibility”. “I looked into the matter and was concerned at what I found – and decided that if Libertas would have me as a candidate, I would run”, he added. O’Connell obviously passed his own vetting and was taken on board.

This, however, was not the first time O’Connell had been involved with Ganley. As Deputy Director of Europol, O’Connell spoke at Ganley’s First Annual Forum On Public Safety In Europe and North America. The conference, which Ganley has hosted several times, along with the University of Limerick, generally lures big names – Al Gore being the most glittering catch so far. And in between the talks on general defence related issue by such luminaries, Ganley and a host of senior ex-US-military Rivada Network employees, plug their own security-related communications products. O’Connell’s 2007 talk focused on how “the requirements of law-enforcement and public safety professionals are falling behind the potential of the technology” – a theme sweet music to the ears of Rivada’s marketing department. All a happy coincidence? Perhaps. The motivation, however, behind the conferences is not humanitarian but is the real-life actualisation of Ganley’s Entrepreneurial Rules [see next article].

The rules are appropriate, or at least normal, in international commerce. However, Ganley was entering a different battlefield with his new brand “Libertas”, a battlefield where Transparency and Accountability – the toxic Unique Selling Points (USPs), were required.

We are now well used to the plummy voice of Declan Ganley railing against the “unaccountable elites” in Brussels and calling for greater transparency. Time and time again Ganley responded to interviewers’ questions as to what he and Libertas stood for: Transparency and accountability, now wrapped in a rightwing social agenda, became an integral part of the brand.

The problem with such an USP is that it presupposes a standard of behaviour – in its proponents. And therein lay the start of Declan Ganley’s major problem – the potential seeds of his own destruction. Little did he realise, he was now setting himself up for the scrutiny that he had avoided. And as the Celtic Tiger died so too did blind adulation for the buccaneering entrepreneur. The positive became the probing; mystery was being seen as murk.

A few postings on the web had alluded to Ganley’s role in Iraq around the time of the launch of Libertas. But it was after the referendum that the unsightly picture got a fuller, more public unveiling.

Ganley was part of a consortium chasing the untapped and hugely lucrative Iraqi mobile phone market. Having failed, he picked himself up and went after a police network. Assisting him was the now-disgraced Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens who had slipped his Eskimo loophole into the Iraqi reconstruction effort. Stevens had introduced positive discrimination legislation to boost the Eskimo economy by allowing non-competitive Eskimo tenders for government contracts: get an Eskimo front going in the heady early days of Bush’s Iraq and you had a one-way ticket to boomtown. The igloo factor was mobilising in the desert.

But Declan Ganley wanted a bigger boom for his buck, so he covertly inserted a new clause into the police contract, laying the groundwork to roll out a nationwide civilian network, the very network his consortium had just been refused. Like those he now criticises, Ganley wasn’t taking No for an answer. His covert clause, however, was spotted by vigilant officials. And the contract was rescinded. But the officials, later completely vindicated, were accused by Ganley of corruption and fell foul of his Washington big-hitter allies – forcing their resignation. But Ganley and his partners’ scheming for more money led to a two-year delay in the police network at a very critical time.

“During that time thousands of American soldiers and Iraqi police officers were killed, at least some of whom could have been saved had they been able to pick up a phone and call for help”, author T Christian Miller states in his book “Blood Money. Wasted Billions, Lost Lives and Corporate Greed In Iraq”. And in a scathing indictment of unaccountable elites, Miller continues: “The whole episode was a shameful victory of narrow business interests over a vital strategic policy”.

Ganley, for his part, denies the contract was revoked and says he walked away due to murky affairs he is unable to elaborate on. Stevens’ Eskimo loophole has continued to pay Ganley dividends through “sweetheart” contracts with the US National Guard and other federal bodies. Not illegal. But the exploitation of positive discrimination legislation is hardly the foundation for his transparency and accountability platform. The platform is further eroded by the fact that Ganley’s wife Delia, using her maiden name, contributes to Senator Stevens. As she does to Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, where Rivada got lucrative communications contracts with the National Guard. Nothing wrong there either.

Delia Ganley is entitled to use her maiden name and contribute to these two Senators. But what have both senators got in common? They both chart this year in the Citizens for Good Governance Top Twenty Most Corrupt politicians. Transparency/Accountability?

Ignominiously for Libertas, its fragile European credibility was not helped when in early February Igor Grozin, an Estonian MP, denied signing papers asking for its recognition by the EU as a political party – so prejudicing 200,000 Euro in European Parliament funding.

It seems someone out there is calling the elites to account but it’s sure not Declan Ganley.

As such stories circulate, his personal bog to mansion story comes under closer scrutiny by the day. “Declan Ganley is a liar, a self-mythologiser, a snake-oil salesman”, Minister for European Affairs Dick Roche told Village Magazine. The truth was slowly emerging.

There is no way Ganley can keep the lid on such a catalogue of lies and dirty deeds, Minister Roche added.