Millionaire businessman Declan Ganley today claimed his dramatic comeback to fight the Lisbon Treaty would be low-key compared to last year’s well-financed offensive.
The controversial founder of Libertas, who had vowed not to spearhead another drive against the EU reform deal, said he was provoked into a return by the 'Yes' side.
Officially launching his campaign ahead of the October 2 referendum, Mr Ganley said he would start fundraising tomorrow for €50,000 and €200,000 to cover his costs.
“We will not be running a campaign like the last Lisbon campaign,” he said. “The resources that we have are minuscule in comparison to the 'Yes' side.”
Mr Ganley, a key figure in delivering Ireland’s 'No' vote last year which plunged the EU into crisis, had declared he was bowing out of politics after failing to get elected to the European Parliament in June.
His party Libertas, which ran a hugely expensive campaign to get representatives elected right across Europe, also failed to make any impact in the polls.
But he said “fallacies” in the pro-Lisbon camp had provoked him into fronting a second attempt to thwart the treaty.
“We have decided to enter the fray on the Lisbon re-debate for a number of reasons,” he said, “in particular because of the astonishing degree of misrepresentation that has been coming from the proponents of overturning the Irish people’s decision on the Lisbon treaty that was made last year.”
Ireland is the only country in Europe to vote on the reform package.
After last year’s 'No' vote, the Government sought legal guarantees to address voter concerns about permanent representation, neutrality, workers rights and moral issues to pave the way for a second referendum.
All of Ireland’s main political parties, with the exception of Sinn Féin, are calling for a 'Yes' vote.
The latest opinion poll in the Sunday Business Post shows 52% voting in favour of the treaty, 25% saying they will vote against and 23% undecided.
Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney became the latest high-profile figure to enter the national debate, with an attack on those opposed to the deal.
“The reasons for voting 'No' are manufactured, on the whole,” he told The Observer newspaper. “And if it’s 'No' again, I think we have lost ourselves in the modern world.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin said there was “steady support” for the treaty but stressed an energetic 'Yes' campaign must continue right up to the end of voting.
“It is already clear that people are willing to take the time to talk about why Ireland needs a Europe reformed by Lisbon and the detail of the new legal guarantees Europe has given to the Irish people,” he said.
“These guarantees are answering the concerns raised by people during last year’s referendum and have significantly changed the dynamic of this campaign.
“However, nothing can be taken for granted and everybody who believes that we need a 'Yes' vote to protect Ireland’s positive role in the EU should play their part in the remaining weeks of the campaign.”