FIRST it was the sheer ingratitude of the Irish, then it was the failure of the Dublin government to mount a successful yes campaign. Now Brussels has found a new explanation as to why Ireland voted down the European Union treaty in June - a CIA and Pentagon-backed plot, devised by American neoconservatives to weaken the EU.
The European parliament wants an inquiry into whether Declan Ganley, the multi-millionaire chairman of the Libertas group that campaigned against the treaty, could be in the pockets of US defence and intelligence services.
The calls have been led by Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the firebrand 1968 student leader turned Green MEP, who pointed to Irish press reports that “revealed there possibly exists a link between the financiers of the no campaign in Ireland and the Pentagon as well as the CIA.
“If proved true, this would clearly show there are forces in the US willing to pay people to destabilise a strong and autonomous Europe”, he said.
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Cohn-Bendit’s suspicions were backed by Hans-Gert Pöttering, president of the European parliament: “The facts must be put on the table. We cannot allow Europe to be harmed by people who demand transparency but do not provide it themselves.”
Last week the parliament’s most senior MEPs discussed the issue and urged the Irish Standards in Public Office Commission to investigate Ganley’s finances.
“The suggestion is not only wrong but ludicrous,” said a CIA spokesman.
Speculation by MEPs appears to rest on the fact that Ganley’s company Rivada Networks has telecoms contracts with the US military worth more than €200m (£159m).
He disclosed last week that he loaned €200,000 of his own money to fund the Libertas campaign against the treaty. It is not clear on what terms the loan was given or if it breached rules on political donations.
Ganley said he considered Pöttering’s remarks to be “absolutely outrageous” and insisted that neither he nor Libertas had done anything wrong.
Cohn-Bendit pointed to the right-wing Heritage Foundation in Washington as the intellectual source for the CIA’s plans to derail European unity.
His claims were dismissed by Sally McNamara, a senior EU policy analyst at the foundation. “This administration is one of the most pro-European we have seen in a long time. There is no sinister antiEU conspiracy,” she said.