How to buy an Irish referendum

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Have you been wondering why we are having a referendum on same sex marriage in 2015 – when families nationwide struggle to pay mortgages, household bills and endless new taxes and charges?

Have you been wondering why the Government is so committed to changing the definition of marriage for evermore, has pushed through important legislation about children in jig time, and why every organ of the state including a large portion of the media,  CEO’s of multinational companies, state agencies, retired judges and even elements within the Gardaí are pushing a YES vote?

Could it be that money tells the story?

This post demonstrates the effective champerty that has resulted in the Irish public being rail-roaded into a referendum costing the taxpayer 20 million euros at a time when families around Ireland are struggling to pay their household bills.

This information demonstrates how private interests in Ireland and abroad are, through spending millions promoting one side, distorting the democratic process and potentially changing the course of Ireland’s social history.

Let’s have a look at some of the main organisations campaigning for a Yes vote and how they have been resourced.

The main organisation campaigning for a Yes vote is Yes Equality.  It’s an umbrella group and a cooperative project between:

  • Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) a registered charity  CHY 16635
  • Marriage Equality (ME)  –  Marriage Equality Ltd, a lobby group
  • The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) a lobby group with a charitable affiliate (The Irish Trust for Civil Liberties, Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.)

Other major campaigners in favour of a Yes vote in Ireland are

  • Amnesty International Ireland
  • BelongTo Youth Services

The main sponsor of the referendum you will be voting on on 22nd May is US based fund Atlantic Philanthropies

On Saturday, 9th May, the Irish Times published an article by columnist Breda O’Brien titled  ‘Asking Questions about Funding for Referendum Campaign’.  The piece which you can read here would be have more appropriately headlined ‘How to buy an Irish referendum’ as it revealed how the organisations who form Yes Equality have received approximately $17,000,000  from US based billionaire Chuck Feeney’s entity Atlantic Philanthropies.

The article outlined how Atlantic have, via their millions, brought on the referendum and even got the name of one organisation they support (Marriage Equality) on the ballot paper.

All of the information about how and why this money was granted is clearly set out in documents which Atlantic Philanthropies proudly boasts on its website. In the glossy 2014 report Catalysing LGBT Equality and Visibility in Ireland, some choice quotes demonstrate very clearly that the money was intended to ‘deliver’ same sex marriage.

Catalysing LGBT Equality and Visibility in Ireland cover Page - Copy

The full document which can be accessed here confirms that the money was for the purposes of campaigning and contains some choice quotes including this one which explains that as a result of the American millions:

“LGBT organisations are supported by a new generation of activists who are out, politicised, trained, and supported to take on inequality and restore dignity for themselves, their families, and their communities. In most cases they are succeeding, often dramatically. Irish people in same-sex relationships have civil partnership rights, and the political foundation is rapidly being built for social support and legal endorsement of civil marriage through a public referendum in 2015. The Republic of Ireland will be the first country in the world to put the issue to a national public vote”

Here’s the link to the confirmation that $475,215 was granted to Marriage Equality and below is a photo of it.

Marraige Equality Atlantic - Copy

Interestingly, GLEN, one of the main beneficiaries of the US millions is a charity registered with the Irish Revenue Commissioners. (Glen Limited – HY 16635 ). In short, GLEN has received many millions from the US to develop what Atlantic says

enabled them to ramp up their work into a full-time highly professionalized lobbying machine. It works “inside” the machinery of government where it uses a “principled pragmatist” model in which it consolidates support, wins over the doubtful and pacifies those who are opposed.”

Does this go some way towards explaining why we are where we are in May 2015 having a referendum pushed at us from every angle, and at every level?

Here’s the link to the $4,727,860 that GLEN received from Atlantic and a photo of it.

GLEN Ltd Atlantic Philanthropies Website - Copy

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) received $7,727,700  which you can see detailed here and here’s a photo just in case…    

ICCL Atlantic Philanthropies Money - Copy (3)

The ICCL also operates another entity for which they have Charity Number. The Irish Trust for  Civil Liberties, Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.   This entity has received $3,829,693  from Atlantic. Here’s the link to it and here’s a photo.

Atlantic Philanthropies ICCL trust - Copy

Atlantic Funding of Amnesty International  Ireland

Though originally founded to lobby for the release of political prisoners, in recent years, Amnesty International Ireland has come under much criticism from its members for losing focus on its main mission.  More on that here. Though not a part of Yes Equality, Amnesty is campaigning hard on this referendum, a notable recent intervention being the issuing of a Press Statement on behalf of some upset stock photography models.

Here’s the link confirming that Atlantic gave Amnesty International Ireland $5,105,170  and here’s a photo.

Atlantic Philanthropies Amnesty International - Copy

But that’s not all..

Other foreign money helping to achieve a Yes vote on May 22nd.

Yes, there’s even more money from outside the state playing a part.

The Ford Foundation give ICCL a ‘network building’ grant of $250,000 in 2013.  Details here and here’s a photo.

Ford Foundation ICCL Network Building Grant - Copy

Here’s a snip from the Marriage Equality Website from a few weeks ago. It’s been removed since.  It shows some of the other funders of Marriage Equality.  

Marriage Equality funded - Copy

The Ireland Funds is based primarily in the US and donated money to Marriage Equality under the Promising Ireland initiative.  Details here

The British Council The British Council describes itself as “an executive non-departmental public body, a public corporation (in accounting terms) and a charity under registration numbers 209131 (England and Wales) and SC037733 (Scotland).”  It’s patron is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  It is sponsored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office  and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs is answerable to parliament for the policies, operations and performance of the British Council.          

Kingdom of the Netherlands.  The Dutch government is clearly invested in the outcome of the referendum.

The Urgent Action Fund. This is a Canadian fund.  On their website here they state as follows: “Marriage Equality (ME) requested funds to initiate an awareness-raising campaign to raise the visibility of same-sex couples and families in Ireland. ME will also work to inform elected representatives on the issue of discrimination same-sex couples face under the current Civil Partnership legislation. It has planned meetings with government representatives, publication of articles on same-sex marriage, and community engagement events. The mission of human rights organization ME is to achieve equality for same-sex couples in Ireland through equal access to civil marriage.”

European Commission Bizarrely, money was granted to both Marriage Equality, and GLEN by the State body, the Equality Authority using funds from the European Commission.  Presumably the figures are obtainable.   The state funding of Marriage Equality, a lobby group set up with the express purpose of changing the constitution is  certainly irregular.  More details here  

Domestic Funding towards organisations campaigning for Yes

There has been lots of money sloshing about for political activism on this issue here at home too.  Here’s one.

The Community foundation is a philanthropic foundation and a registered charity with the Irish Revenue Commissioners (CHY 13967). It’s six member grants assessment panel has consistently had at least one if not two representatives of Ireland’s LGBT organisations including representatives of organisations that benefitted directly from its grants.

Here are some details of grants given by the Community Foundation to Marriage Equality and GLEN

2013: Marriage Equality 20,000, GLEN 35,000 – More details here

2012: GLEN 29,200  – More details here

2011: Marriage Equality 20,000 (Notably this sum was “To cover the costs for activities under the Mobilisation Strategy for the next 2 years 2012-2013”) More details here

2010: GLEN 76,829, Marriage Equality 1640 –  More details here

2009: GLEN 76,952, Marriage Equality 3,300 – More details  here

It’s clear beyond doubt that the Yes campaign have masses of money to fund this campaign.  Organisations may say that the money they were granted was used for other purposes.  However, one thing is patently clear.  These groups aren’t funded by the ordinary people of Ireland.

Do we really want to change the constitution based on the campaign being funded by powerful interests at home and abroad?

More information re funding of these organisations via various Government Departments to follow.  If you have validated information about other funding received by the organisations outlined please submit it via the comments below and if it is verifiable, admins will add it to this report.  

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