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Libertas spent €5.6m in year of second Lisbon vote

New accounts filed by the Libertas Institute show spending of €5.65m in 2009 – more than matching the spending of big parties.

Declan Ganley's Libertas campaigned in the second Lisbon Treaty referendum, and ran three candidates in the 2009 European Parliament elections.
Declan Ganley's Libertas campaigned in the second Lisbon Treaty referendum, and ran three candidates in the 2009 European Parliament elections.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

DECLAN GANLEY’S Libertas Institute spent over €5.6 million in the year of the second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, new accounts has shown.

New spending records for the institute – a private limited company – filed with the Companies Registration Office show that the institute boasted an income of just over €3.2 million for the year, but staff costs of just under €480,000 and operating charges of over €5.2 million.

The company ran an operating loss of over €2.4 million, the documents show, while it had debts of €2.02 million which were due to materialise within a year and another €1.6 million falling due in later years.

The accounts for 2010, however, show almost no change in either figure – and note that Declan Ganley, the company secretary and one of its two directors, signed a personal guarantee for €1.4 million to back loans from third parties.

It is not clear from where the company received other funding, as the Libertas Institute – which was never registered as a political party – was not required to make public disclosures about its political donations.

The company was owed just over €800,000 at the end of 2010, of which Ganley was owed €82,474.

Libertas Institute Ltd lost €53,720 in 2010, with income of €19,234 but depreciation of over €4,500, operating charges of just under €11,000 and interest of €55,908.

An independent auditor’s report furnished with the accounts outlines that the company’s liabilities are over €1.21 million greater than its assets – which would “indicate a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

The company’s stated goal in the accounts is to “lobby to influence public opinion into the future”.

The significant spending in 2009 – in which Libertas campaigned unsuccessfully against the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in a second referendum, and ran three candidates in the European Parliament elections – would more than match the similar spending of other parties.

Neither Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael nor Labour disclosed party donations in 2009; while each party did disclose donations to its election candidates, each party’s aggregate donations were in the tens of thousands.

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Gavan Reilly

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