Pro-Abortion Group Forced to Return Illegal Soros Grant
The Abortion Rights Campaign has been obliged to return a grant of $24,999 to the US-based Open Societies Foundation after an intervention by the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO). The money from the George Soros funded foundation was for a campaign to get rid of Ireland’s constitutional protection for the unborn.
According to documents obtained by The Irish Catholic under the Freedom of Information Act, the Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) returned the grant, originally worth almost €23,000, maintaining it was doing so “without prejudice” to the findings of the commission, which it rejected.
The group received the grant in January 2016 after submitting an application to fund a project directed towards, among other things, the “strategic goal of garnering support for repeal of the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution”.
Documents leaked last August revealed that OSF, which is bankrolled by billionaire investor George Soros, intended to challenge Ireland’s constitutional protections for the unborn by funding the Abortion Rights Campaign, Amnesty International Ireland, and the Irish Family Planning Association to work collectively on a campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland.
Despite this, when SIPO asked ARC last August to submit copies of correspondence with the US-based foundation, including its funding application, it claimed that funding received from the US had not been used for political purposes and was exempt from SIPO oversight.
Accusing SIPO of taking a “draconian” approach that impinged their right to freedom of association, the group only furnished the watchdog with the requested documentation after SIPO’s head of Ethics and Lobbying Regulation, Sherry Perreault, threatened to refer the matter to An Garda Síochána.
SIPO subsequently informed the group that their application showed that as they had sought overseas funding for a campaign with a domestic political purpose, they were in breach of the law, and that An Garda Síochána would have to be informed if the donation were not returned. While rejecting this verdict, the group returned the donation in November.
The other two pro-abortion groups that received Soros money, however, seem to have successfully resisted pressure from SIPO.
The Irish Family Planning Association, which is affiliated to Planned Parenthood, claimed that it was not a campaigning body and that it had used the €132,000 it had received for “charitable and educational purposes”; the commission did not pursue the matter further.
Amnesty International Ireland, meanwhile, admitted that the €137,000 it received was used to campaign for Ireland to “bring its law on abortion into compliance with international human rights law and standards”. But Amnesty Ireland’s executive director Colm O’Gorman said Amnesty does not generally consider itself to come under SIPO’s jurisdiction as its activities do not constitute work for “political purposes”.
The Irish Catholic. March 30. Family & Life. April 3.