Amnesty International is defying the Irish Republic’s law by refusing to return a large donation from George Soros intended to be used in a campaign to overturn the Catholic country’s pro-life law.
The Republic of Ireland’s ethics watchdog, which enforces the country’s legislation, instructed the progressive organisation to return the €137,000 (£120,000/$161,000) to the Soros-run Open Society Foundations because the donation breaches the country’s laws prohibiting foreign donors contributing to political campaigns.
The donation is intended for Amnesty’s My Body My Rights campaign, which advocates repealing Ireland’s pro-life Eighth Amendment. The ‘civil society’ organisation’s chief executive in Ireland, Colm O’Gorman, told The Irish Times: “We’re being asked to comply with a law that violates human rights, and we can’t do that.”
“Ireland is targeting Amnesty International purely for its human rights work,” O’Gorman added. “This decision is an indefensible attack on human rights defenders, and shocking evidence of the real threat the Electoral Act poses to wider civil society organisations in Ireland.”
The Catholic republic is set to hold a referendum in Summer 2018 on whether to legalise abortion. Leo Varadkar, the country’s first openly gay prime minister, said the plebiscite would “give the people of Ireland the opportunity to remove our constitutional ban on abortion, should they wish to do so”.
Ireland’s Eighth Amendment to the Republic’s Constitution states that the right to life of the mother and the unborn child are equal.
Amnesty Ireland has been informed by the Irish regulatory body, #SIPO, that it has broken the law by accepting funding for its #humanrights work from an overseas foundation. This is an indefensible law. We will not comply. Read our FAQ: https://t.co/46IjQEZ01l#BraveIrelandpic.twitter.com/vuX1W2LA8v
— Amnesty Ireland (@AmnestyIreland) December 8, 2017
OFS provides nearly 2.5 per cent of Amnesty International’s annual income, and Amnesty has previously raised its ‘concerns’ regarding sovereign nations’ laws prohibiting the foreign-funding of elections and referendums.
John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia director, called Ireland’s Electoral Act 1997 “flawed” and said that it is being “weaponised” by those “opposed to a range of human rights and equality issues”.
“That the state is allowing its laws and regulations to be used in this way is deeply alarming. The Irish government must urgently intervene to ensure Ireland’s laws and regulatory frameworks stop obstructing the work of civil society,” said Dalhuisen.
A probe last year by the Irish Independent found that the OFS pledged to fund three Irish organisations to “work collectively on a campaign to repeal Ireland’s constitutional amendment granting equal rights to an implanted embryo as the pregnant woman”.
Leaked George Soros Plan to Turn Ireland into a Pro-Abortion Country https://t.co/66Qw3HuFo2
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 2, 2017
The document continued: “With one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world, a win there could impact other strongly Catholic countries in Europe, such as Poland, and provide much-needed proof that change is possible, even in highly conservative places.
“The recent legalisation of same-sex marriage [in the Republic of Ireland] offers valuable and timely opportunities to advance the campaign.”
Soros’s organisations have been working across the world to undermine nations’ cultures, autonomy, and laws, with Hungary most notably hitting back by pushing for legislation on greater transparency of foreign-funded NGOs and universities – both directly affecting Soros interests.
In response, the European Union has threatened Hungary with probes and legal action. Leaked documents reveal that at least 226 Members of European Parliament are considered “reliable allies” of Soros.
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