What’s the difference between Declan Ganley and Max Headroom?
Answer: Ganley’s a cartoon.
How else would you explain his overnight decline into quivering ultra-Catholic paranoia? How else could you explain his descent from measured logical argumentation to quoting Papal encyclicals?
Here’s a guy who fronted the anti-Lisbon campaign, and who did it well, even if you disagreed with him. I had no problem with people opposing the treaty: he’s entitled to do that if he wants. He came across as a reasonable, balanced, self-possessed man of the world, articulating a sincerely-held objection to the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty. Now, admittedly, the vehicle he created for his campaign, Libertas, remains a highly questionable entity, funded by shadowy cash from all sorts of murky corners, which he refused to discuss. And many of us were disturbed by his connections to the American military communications business and the spooks in homeland security, but it’s more than that.
On a personal level, he makes me uncomfortable. He has the look of a man who practises in front of a mirror. His studied demeanour reminds me of a spokesman for Scientology: all steely gaze and tilt-headed, patient smirk. This man believes he is the Chosen One.
I thought his motivations for opposing the treaty were far from pure and I said so at the time. I thought he had an agenda that had nothing whatever to do with the Lisbon Treaty. I thought it was all about money, because I believed Ganley was at heart a two-bit spiv, out to make a fast buck wherever he could, and I still believe that, but I also believe he’s a bit more than that.
During the lead-up to the referendum, Ganley’s Libertas aligned itself with some dubious characters – most notably the troglodytes who call themselves Cóir, but who are really Youth Defence, who are in turn the spawn of whatever lunatic far-right claque you care to select. Muintir na hÉireann are my personal favourites for the overweening arrogance in their choice of name: the People of Ireland.
He fooled me though. Ganley fooled me, and he fooled me good. I thought he was just using the Youth Defence goons as a tool to achieve his political and financial objectives, but I never for a second dreamed that he was the absolute, cast-iron embodiment of drooling ultra-Right Catholicism himself.
I couldn’t believe the change. It was as good as any computer graphics I’ve ever seen, and a million miles ahead of poor old jittery Ma-ma-ma-ma-max Head-ed-ed-ed-ed-ed-ed-room. It was better than American Werewolf in London. Better than the Howling. Better than any of your fancy-dan CGI effects in the movies.
When the moon came out, Ganley sprouted fangs, and hairy paws to hide his manicure. He tilted his long hairy nose to the clouds and he howled a roar of Catholic self-pity at the skies.
There were complaints to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission that RTÃ‰ were unfair when they made a Prime Time programme, exposing his dealings in the former Soviet Baltic states and his inflated claims of access to politicians. It shone a light on his strange relationships with the US military and security industry. The camera closed in on him as he squirmed and smirked and evaded when confronted with interviews from people he claimed to know in Latvia. Declan who?
The programme made him look like a Walter Mitty character who believes his own myth, whose plausibility is his main strength, and who managed to charm many influential people. Ganley made a lot of money from this charming persona, but it’s a brittle armour he wears to protect himself against reality, and he lashes out at anyone who dares to poke at it.
The Complaints Commission told the complainants to get stuffed. Ganley is a big boy, they said. He chose to enter politics and he can expect to be questioned. That’s democracy for you.
Ganley doesn’t like to be questioned and I’m not sure he’s too keen on democracy either. He certainly doesn’t like criticism or ridicule. Right now, he’s trying to have Village magazine withdraw an article called Declan Ganley, Snake-Oil Salesman.
Ganley addressed the John Paul II Society conference at the weekend, taking the opportunity to dismiss criticisms of himself as filthy lies, and emphasising his opposition to same-sex marriage, and the importance of The Family. I remember the eighties, when every authoritarian maniac in Ireland was beating us over the head with talk about this idealised Family,and using it to justify every sort of oppression and madness.
In telling the conference, which was co-hosted by Human Life International, that it was undemocratic of the government to be seeking a second referendum on Lisbon, Ganley seemed to overlook one obvious irony. Many of his listeners had forced not one, but two, repeat abortion referendums on us, looking for the result they wanted, and they still clamour for yet another.
According to Ganley,
Our Holy Father teaches us that once society does not treat every life as precious and inviolable from conception to natural death, then man becomes a product subjected to pragmatism and utilitarianism such that abortion, euthanasia and the destruction of human life are presented as false rights and choice.
Listen to the language: Our Holy Father teaches us.
I find that phrase worrying. Here is a man who wants to lead a Europe-wide political party, yet who defers to the teaching of another man. Here, in the end of it all, is somebody who doesn’t think for himself, but seems content to take his opinions from an unelected priest in Rome, and not only his opinions, but his immutable, fixed, unshakeable beliefs.
Such people, it seems to me, are more than happy to pass on the teachings to doubters like me, persuading us, if necessary, through the use of a fist or a boot or a baseball bat until we too accept the teachings of the Holy Father.
I have always found Youth Defence and its other manifestations detestable, undemocratic, subversive, and profoundly contrary to the Christian teachings they claim as their own. There is no charity in these ultra-Catholic groupings, only hatred and judgement. They are populated by mentally unsound people and led by the likes of Ganley, demagogues so insecure that they’ll stop at nothing until somebody somewhere recognises them as the Messiah.
I think Ganley is one such brittle demagogue. I think his ego is so huge and so fragile that he will suffer torture until he leads a strong band of unquestioning followers to some sort of power in Europe.
In these dangerous times, with world Depression threatening, do we really need another Messianic, power-obsessed European politician?
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