16 Jun 2008

When, twenty years ago, I read a long article in my local newspaper - The Village Voice – attempting to convince me that the 150 most powerful, most influential people on the planet (Ronald Reagan and Henry Kissinger, amongst them) were at that very moment shacked up in a top secret location deciding on the future of the universe, I simply didn’t believe it. It was just way too weird. And when the unhinged hack then insisted that this ultra elitist organization – known as the Bilderberg Group – had been meeting in secret every single year since the mid 50s, I decided it was time for me to get out of the East Village and live amongst the sane. First of all, what about the logistics? How do you get future US presidents (Bill Clinton 1991), CEOs of the world’s biggest companies, British Prime Ministers (Tony Blair), royalty (Prince Charles) and other ultra, ultra powerful types (George Soros) to coordinate their conflicting schedules and agree to create the biggest security nightmare imaginable by all arriving at the same place at the same time, all the while keeping the whole thing totally secret from the rest of the world? And, then, why would they bother?

Well, it turns out, the mad hack wasn’t completely making things up.

For years, the Bilderberg Gang have managed to go about their business without attracting too much fuss. But thanks to the internet, their secret get-togethers aren’t so secret any more. Just last week the group finally gave pretending they don’t really exist and, for the first time, admitted that the 2008 meeting was about to take place just outside Washington D.C.

Bilderberg members come from the mainstream left and the right of North American and European political life. They are an ultra elite: you only get to attend Bilderberg if insiders (including our own Peter Sutherland) decide that you’re the ‘right type’. Bilderbergers maintain that their meetings are simply an opportunity for folk who spend their time in the spotlight to let down their hair and express fully and freely their views amongst their peers without fear of being misrepresented in the press. Critics worry that attendees must (allegedly) agree to keep anything they hear discussed completely secret.

I’d be a little uncomfortable, but not overly worried, about Bilderberg if its membership were limited to private individuals. But the fact that governments also have representatives at the meeting is a concern. When a member of a government attends one of these meetings, what are they expected to do? Get into the free-speaking spirit of things and divulge a nation’s private thoughts? Then listen to whatever ideas Ben Bernanke or Jean-Claude Trichet has for their country but promise not to report these musings back to Government colleagues? Maybe people in other countries are relaxed about these things, but if members of the Irish Government were to be found attending a Bilderberg event, I’d be very upset.

Which is why, when the ‘official’ list of 2008 Bilderberg attendees got out on the net a few days ago, I was alarmed to see the name of our own Attorney General, Paul Gallagher, included. The internet being a reliably poor source of information, I gave the Government Press Office the chance to refute these reports as nonsense. To my surprise, they could ‘neither confirm nor deny’ whether or not he was in attendance. 

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