Monday 11 December 2017

Pro-life group raises more than €1m in donations in a year

DONATION: George Soros gave $25k to one campaign
DONATION: George Soros gave $25k to one campaign
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

The anti-abortion organisation Family & Life raised more than €1m in donations in one year.

Records for Family & Life Movement Ltd show that the organisation which promotes "the welfare and sanctity of life from conception onwards" received €1,052,255 in donations in 2015. The organisation was left with revenue of €333,000 after costs.

The level of donations was a significant increase on the €822,173 it raised in 2014. A related company, Family & Life Campaign Company, was registered with the Companies Office last December and has not yet filed accounts.

The anti-abortion group also registered with the Standards in Public Offices Commission in December, which it is required to do if it plans on receiving donations of more than €100 for a political purpose.

The organisation ran into controversy for taking a number of TDs and senators to New York and Washington on a "fact-finding" visit in 2013.

A year later, Jim Daly, who is now Minister of State for Older People, used Dail privilege to criticise the group for seeking funds from a "targeted audience of primarily vulnerable, elderly people."

Organisations on both sides of the abortion referendum have registered with the ethics watchdog ahead of the forthcoming referendum on abortion since 2015.

Cherish all the Children Equally, which describes its members as left-wing republicans who are pro-life, registered with Sipo seven months ago.

Other pro-life organisations which have registered for fund-raising in the last two years include Coir, the Iona Institute and the Pro-Life Campaign, which filed accounts in July showing that it had cash amounting to €74,898.

Choice Ireland, which is campaigning to repeal the Eighth Amendment, has also registered with Sipo.

However, one of the larger organisations, Abortion Rights Campaign, which was behind yesterday's rally in Dublin, has told Sipo it does not have to register.

It emerged in April that Abortion Rights Campaign returned a grant of US$25,000 it received from an organisation funded by the American billionaire George Soros.

It returned the money after the Standards in Public Offices Commission warned that the donation would breach ethics guidelines and would be reported to gardai if it wasn't returned.

Soros's Open Society Foundation has also provided funding to the Irish Family Planning Clinic and Amnesty International, according to leaked documents that have been widely reported.

The Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment incorporates dozens of organisations and charities under its umbrella. The group is encouraging online donations of amounts from €8 to €128.

Sipo rules prohibit political donations from organisations based overseas.

In a report earlier this year, the ethics watchdog called for legislation to ensure more transparency around funding of referendum campaigns. While they must register, third party organisations do not have to disclose details of actual donations received.

Sunday Independent

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