Saturday 19 August 2017

Amnesty now fights its €1.3m deficit

The director of Amnesty International Ireland, Colm O'Gorman, received a salary of just over €111,000 in 2015, according to the accounts. Stock picture
The director of Amnesty International Ireland, Colm O'Gorman, received a salary of just over €111,000 in 2015, according to the accounts. Stock picture
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

The Irish branch of Amnesty International has run up a €1.3m deficit since the recession, despite attracting record numbers of paying members.

The rights ­organisation, which holds its annual conference this weekend, recorded a loss of €191,852 in 2015 and accumulated the €1.3m deficit over several years.

However, its donations and subscriptions received during the year increased by €136,000 to €2,786,000, as a result of a significant growth in its membership, according to the company's accounts.

In a statement, Amnesty's Irish branch said the structural deficits were due to restructuring the Irish organisation to "invest" in growth while maintaining "the highest possible standards" in its human rights work.

"The structural deficits accrued were as a result of this investment and were agreed with the full cooperation and support of the international secretariat," the statement said. "Amnesty International Ireland also experienced tough economic times during the financial crash which exacerbated the deficit."

Amnesty said it has seen a 63pc increase in fundraising income from individual members and donors. Work campaigning against Ireland's abortion laws has resulted in the greatest increase in Amnesty's membership.

One of its most high-profile campaigns was the marriage equality referendum, on which it spent €29,500 in 2015. Amnesty's Irish branch also received €137,000 over two years from George Soros Open Society Foundations for its campaign on "sexual and reproductive rights".

The director of Amnesty International Ireland, Colm O'Gorman, received a salary of just over €111,000 in 2015, according to the accounts.

Amnesty does not receive any State funding for its campaigns and relies mostly on subscriptions from individual members and less so from philanthropic foundations.

Amnesty has also been involved in the case of Ibrahim Halawa, who is 21, and from Firhouse, Dublin. He was arrested in Cairo in August 2013 during protests against the ousting of then president and Muslikm Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi and has remained in custody since.

Sunday Independent

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