March 14, 2009 / 10:51 PM / 11 years ago

Irish "No" campaigner to contest EU elections

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish businessman Declan Ganley, a leading campaigner against the European Union’s reform treaty, will stand as a candidate for elections to the European Parliament (EP) in June, a spokeswoman said on Saturday.

Ganley is chairman of Libertas, one of the most high profile opponents of the Lisbon treaty, which Irish voters rejected last year amid a lack of information about the treaty and fears Dublin would lose control over policy areas such as tax.

Ganley, who helped fund Libertas’ No campaign, has said he wants the EP elections to be a European-wide referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

“Declan has announced tonight that he’s running in Ireland North West,” the spokeswoman said.

The group, which describes itself as a pan-European political movement, is fielding EP candidates in other countries such as France.

Ireland will vote for a second time on the Lisbon treaty, which is meant to streamline decision-making in the 27-member bloc, later this year.

Dublin is hoping concessions given to Ireland by Brussels, including the right to retain its own commissioner, as well as assurances on taxation and neutrality, will smooth the treaty’s passage.

Ganley, who describes himself and Libertas as pro-Europe, has said the treaty should be rejected because it is anti-democratic.

Recent opinion polls have shown Irish people voting in favour of the reform treaty as a deepening recessions warms their views of Europe, seen as a buffer against an Icelandic-style bust.

No date has yet been set for a second referendum but it is expected to be held in the second half of this year. Brussels would like Ireland to ratify it as soon as possible to give it a greater weight in world affairs, particularly during the current global economic turmoil.

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