Declan Ganley has denied he has a conflict of interest in campaigning for a no vote while also running a Swiss firm that accepts deposits withdrawn from Irish banks.
Mr Ganley dismissed suggestions that he stands to gain financially through the firm in the event of a no vote on the EU fiscal treaty on May 31.
The Galway-based businessman yesterday came under attack when Fine Gael TD Paschal Donohoe highlighted how Mr Ganley had formed a Swiss-based asset management firm in May 2011 that provides “a safe haven for assets in the midst of the continuing global financial crisis.”
The company, Columbanus AG, states this on its website. It says it provides a “service that appears increasingly important in the current European context of fragile peripheral economies, and an unstable eurozone banking sector”.
Mr Donohoe said: “The aim of this company is to profit from economic instability across the eurozone. A no vote, which Declan Ganley is promoting, will create instability within Ireland and add to the uncertainty within the eurozone. It is this very uncertainty that Declan Ganley’s company will profit from. There is clear potential for a conflict of interest that he must clarify.”
Mr Ganley denied this, saying on Newstalk: “It so happens that St Columbanus [sic] does not target clients outside of Switzerland. It is regulated in Switzerland and it is just in Switzerland.”
Fine Gael argued that Mr Ganley had questions to answer regarding his role in the firm, such as his financial stake in it and what advice he had given to its clients about Ireland.
Meanwhile, employers’ group IBEC yesterday said a yes vote would keep Ireland’s economic recovery on track.
IBEC director general Danny McCoy said a no vote would lead to additional austerity.
“Ireland would be forced to close the budget deficit more rapidly, or borrow funds at a higher price. Consumers would have less money in their pockets and economic activity and employment in the domestic economy would suffer.”
The no and yes sides will battle it out on RTÉ’s Frontline this evening in the station’s first significant TV debate on the EU treaty.
Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald will join forces with businessman Declan Ganley for the no side, while Labour leader Eamon Gilmore will share the yes platform with Norah Owen.
No tweets or contributions from outside the studio will be read out by presenter Pat Kenny during the debate, RTÉ confirmed. This follows a damning report by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland over a “bogus” tweet read out during last year’s presidential debate on the show.
Senior figures from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will not participate in the debate. A spokesperson for Enda Kenny confirmed the Taoiseach was never invited to take part. Mr Kenny’s advisers are in talks with RTÉ about his possible appearance on a Prime Time debate to take place next Tuesday, two days before the poll.
Sinn Féin have accused Mr Kenny of running scared after he refused to take part in a one-to-one debate on TV3 with party leader Gerry Adams.
— Juno McEnroe
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved