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27 August 2009 Edition

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Pat Cox challenged to declare interests



No spending limit for pro-Lisbon big business

Following the intervention of multinational corporation Intel on the ‘Yes’ side in the Lisbon referendum it has been confirmed that there is no legal limit to the amount of money big business can spend in the campaign.
Last week the head of Intel in Ireland, Jim O’Hara, called for a ‘Yes’ vote and his company took out hugely expensive full-page ads in broadsheet newspapers. O’Hara confirmed that Intel would be spending many thousands of euros on the campaign but declined to give a precise figure.
The Standards in Public Office Commission has confirmed that there are no limits whatsoever on how much can be spent by such companies. The limits only apply to those seeking donations. Commenting on this, Roger Cole of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance, said:
“One of the key reasons why the EU elite want the Lisbon Treaty passed is because it accelerates the process of the militarisation of the EU. The role played by firms in the military-industrial complex is well documented (see The expenditure by Intel is just the beginning. Such a massive distortion in expenditure profoundly undermines the democratic nature of the decision and the actual outcome of any vote.”
Meanwhile Sinn Féin Vice-President Mary Lou McDonald has called on ‘Ireland for Europe’ spokesperson Pat Cox to come clean on “potential conflicts of interest” between his support for the Lisbon Treaty and his business and consultancy interests. McDonald said:
“Pat Cox has a long career in both domestic and European politics. Since standing down as an MEP in 2004 he has gone on to act as President of the European Movement and as an advisor on communication and strategy to European Commissioner for Consumer Affairs Meglena Kuneva
“Mr Cox is also on the advisory boards of at least three major corporations with a strong interest in influencing EU policy, Microsoft, Pfizer and Michelin. In 2006 he became a senior advisor for lobby consultancy giant APCO and runs his own lobby firm, European Integration Solutions (EIS). APCO includes among its clients seven of the top 10 companies on Fortune’s Global 500.
“There is a potential conflict of interest between Pat Cox’s support for the Lisbon Treaty and his business and consultancy interests.
“For too long Irish politics has been damaged by the close proximity of politicians and big business. There is no room for a ‘Galway Races Tent’ type politics in the forthcoming Lisbon Treaty referendum. In order to reassure the public I would urge Pat Cox to declare all his business and consultancy involvements in the interests of transparency and political honesty.” 



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