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Get Ganley!

Mark Mardell | 08:10 UK time, Friday, 10 October 2008

Get Ganley! That's the word going out from Dublin and Brussels...Declan Ganley

I sit in the office of a senior politician, a serious man who is taking a conspiracy theory seriously, a man who has taken time to get the measure of the man in his cross-hairs... a man who feels his enemy is acting on behalf of an alien, foreign ideology.

No sniper from the Irish secret service, if there is one, is carefully packing away infra-red sights, no hit man from the European Parliament's non-existent military wing is spending time with mercury tilt switches.

But Declan Ganley, the millionaire businessman who bankrolled and masterminded the successful "No" campaign in the Irish referendum, is a target all the same. Many in the European establishment would like to see Mr Ganley come a cropper, see his campaigning days terminated and his nascent political career liquidated before he can do any more damage.

The mysterious Mr Ganley is now talking about turning his think-tank Libertas into an EU-wide political party. He's been touring Europe looking for support for his campaign to turn next year's elections to the European Parliament into another referendum: on what he calls the anti-democratic Europe of the Lisbon Treaty. You remember - that's the one that so many say is just like the constitution the Dutch and French threw out.

But the European Parliament has instructed the Irish authorities to investigate his funding and motives: many believe that the mysterious Mr Ganley is a stooge of the American military industrial complex, doing the bidding of the right-wing neo-cons in the CIA and Pentagon, hell-bent on smashing the rise of a political Europe.

I write "mysterious" because I think it must be obligatory under international journalistic law. Every article does it. Several times. In fact, he's not mysterious, but open and accessible. What they mean is he's exotic, like a character from a mystery movie. An Irishman who speaks with not a lilt but a London accent, who lives in singer Donovan's old mansion, who travels around by helicopter or Mercedes or Rolls Royce, who went to the former Soviet Union and made millions out of timber and telecoms, as capitalism emerged blinking and unfolding from the wreckage of the old system. He holds the Louisiana Distinguished Service Medal. That medal says a lot to his foes. He received it for getting emergency communications up and running after Hurricane Katrina - he's chairman and chief exec of a company that specialises in secure emergency communications networks and has a $200m contract with the American military. That is what raises both hackles and suspicions.

The senior politician sitting in front of me has clearly been giving it a lot of thought: he traces a lot of Mr Ganley's ideas to a particular individual at a particular right-wing Washington think-tank.

I express some scepticism. But he enthusiastically tells me: "You can do a lot with textual analysis - he says 'European elites' a lot. It's not an expression that springs to the lips of a boy from an Irish village - it's neo-con language".

I am impressed, but when I put the term into Google the top hits are articles from The New Statesman and The Guardian - not usually thought of as CIA tools.

Mr Ganley shrugs off the accusations when I ring him. I'm trying to arrange an interview, but he's in an airport about to get on a plane to the States. "Off to see my controllers," he says cheerfully. Later, as I try to pin him down, he fires off a characteristically colourful rebuttal. "Madder than a box of monkeys... patronising to the Irish people to suggest that someone put something in their cornflakes that morning to get mind control and influence their vote." But is he close to the neo-cons?

"Ridiculous and untrue... it is utterly baseless," he says. "These people in Brussels would rather talk about anything than the subject. I want the EU to be prosperous, respected and stand tall in the world, and that's only going to happen if we bring democracy to the heart of it."

Mr Ganley's views are a little curious. He always paints himself as in favour of the European Union, but says he wants a different sort of EU, one with an elected president. That would horrify many British Eurosceptics as well as his supposed mentor in that Washington think-tank. Then the unelected European commissioners would be reporting directly to an elected politician, rather as the unelected Condoleezza Rice or Hank Paulson report to George W. So perhaps there is something of an American model in his thinking.

I am not quite sure if the American defence establishment, rather than some intellectuals, are particularly bothered about the Lisbon Treaty. Most Washington right-wingers are happy enough to sneer at Europe in general, and do worry that the EU could undermine Nato. But a significant number would love the EU to do more foreign policy and spend more on bombs and bullets and take care of its own borders, particularly as those currently in power in Paris and Berlin are pretty keen on the transatlantic alliance.

As I leave the politician's office he hands me photocopies of a book called Blood Money, about American business deals in Iraq. There are underscorings, annotations, scribbled questions in the margins: "nb who his partners?" All because it mentions a "mysterious Irish entrepreneur Declan Ganley". Will they succeed and get Ganley? It's a mystery to me.

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