Amnesty Ireland’s claims that it does not engage in political work or political campaigning and for that reason its work should be of no concern to the Standards in Public Office is profoundly misleading.

SIPOCThe Electoral Act was specifically brought about to prevent large sums of money flowing into the Irish State from abroad that would be used for political campaigning that would have the effect of undermining our democracy. It is clear that Amnesty Ireland is in receipt of large sums of money from at least two US corporations; Atlantic Philanthropies and Open Society Foundation. The main purpose of the Electoral Act is to deal with this type of interference of the political process by foreign based corporations and individuals and that was core to the introduction and implementation of this legislation, and the later establishment of the Standards in Public Office Commission. This is the purpose of the Electoral Act and the assertion of Amnesty Ireland that SIPO’s correct interpretation and implementation of this legislation would interfere with their work is beyond shocking.

Below are various examples which we have listed which show that Amnesty Ireland is a political campaign group and links to various material from their own website, Facebook and Twitter account as evidence of this.

1. Amnesty International Ireland has a related organisation called Amnesty International Foundation which is a registered charity. This is completely separate organisation from Amnesty International Ireland and the reason these two groups are separate is that Amnesty International Ireland is seen by the Revenue Commissioners as a political campaign group.

 

2.  Amnesty International Ireland openly seeks funds to cover the costs of their political campaign work. Just a quick perusal of their website amnesty.ie and in particular page https://www.amnesty.ie/donate/.

Under the donation section it clearly states under the heading ‘Why Donate to Amnesty?’ that the money that they receive is to be used for

i.         Research

ii          Lobby

It states – “We use this information to lobby governments”

iii         Mobilise

It states “We mobilise others to campaign for change through petitions, letters and protests, campaigners worldwide press for action from the people and institutions can make change happen”.

The latter two are political purposes within the terms of the Electoral Act, 1997.

 

3.   The Citizens’ Assembly was obliged by the Government to examine the issue of the 8th Amendment and abortion in Ireland. As part of this Amnesty Ireland made oral and written submissions (links here) to the Citizens’ Assembly as part of its political campaign for constitutional and legislative changes.

Amnesty Ireland’s submission to the Assembly stated the following:

“i. Decriminalize abortion in all circumstances (for women seeking services and health care workers providing abortion services), while still enabling incidents of malpractice to be handled through general criminal law, as is done with any other health service.

  1. Repeal the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act and replace it with a human rights compliant legislative framework that ensures access to abortion both in law and in practice, so women and girls can access abortion services in a timely manner and through processes that respect their autonomy.

iii. Repeal the Regulation of Information Act 1995 and ensure full provision of information on abortion services.

  1. Regulate conscientious objection in a way that does not jeopardise women’s and girls’ human rights. Make clear that those who object to providing abortion services have a duty to make a timely referral to another health care provider who will offer the services, and to always provide care, regardless of their personal beliefs or objections, in emergency circumstances or where a referral or continuity of care is not possible.”
  2. Eliminate unnecessary barriers to accessing abortion services, which are unsupported by evidence, such as requirements that a provider consult with one or more other health care practitioners before performing an abortion or that abortions must always be performed in tertiary care facilities.”

These are political goals within the meaning of the Electoral Act.

 

4.   Amnesty Ireland organises protests outside Dáil Eireann calling for constitutional and legislative change. Here is the  evidence  from the Amnesty Ireland website and twitter account confirming this.

These are political activities with a political goal within the meaning of the Electoral Act, 1997.

 

5. Amnesty Ireland organises protest marches calling for constitutional and legislative change. Here are links from the Amnesty Ireland website and twitter account confirming this. Here is the evidence.

These are political activities with a political goal within the meaning of the Electoral Act, 1997.

 

6.   Amnesty Ireland organises press conferences calling for constitutional and legislative change. Here are links to material that have been obtained from the Amnesty Ireland website and twitter account confirming this.

These are political activities with a political goal within the meaning of the Electoral Act, 1997.

 

7.  Amnesty Ireland is engaged in political lobbying for the purpose of legislative change in this area and in particular change to the Irish Constitution and the enactment of legislation for wider access to abortion in Ireland. This can be clearly seen by the fact that the Amnesty Ireland is registered with the lobbying.ie. Here is the evidence.

These are political activities with a political goal within the meaning of the Electoral Act, 1997.

 

8.   Amnesty Ireland has together with other organisations created a plan for the US funding by Mr. George Soros of a political campaign to change Ireland Constitution.

This is a political goal within the meaning of the Electoral Act.

 

9. Amnesty Ireland is part of the Coalition to Repeal the 8th Amendment, a lobby group which has as its only purpose the political campaign for the removal of the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution.

These are political activities with a political goal within the meaning of the Electoral Act, 1997.

 

10. Amnesty Ireland organises conferences to organise the repeal of the 8th Amendment.

These are political activities with a political goal within the meaning of the Electoral Act, 1997.

 

11.  Amnesty Ireland has online petitions to organise the repeal of the 8th Amendment. Here is the evidence.

These are political activities with a political goal within the meaning of the Electoral Act, 1997.

 

Based on the above, it is obvious that Amnesty International Ireland is a political group, engaged in political campaigning in Ireland and has received money from abroad for a political campaign in Ireland.

To quote SIPO’s own guidelines:

Where a foreign donation or a donation in excess of the maximum prescribed limit is received, the recipient must, within 14 days, either return the donation to the donor and keep a written record of its return (for the purpose of its being furnished to the Standards Commission if required by it) or must notify the Standards Commission and remit the donation, or the value thereof, to the Standards Commission. In the case of a monetary donation which exceeds the maximum prescribed limit, the excess amount only must be returned to the donor or remitted to the Standards Commission.