American billionaire George Soros has been funding a pro-choice Irish group accused of illegally distributing his dollars ahead of the country’s referendum on abortion next year.
Amnesty International in Ireland received $160,000 in funding from the Open Society Foundation which was founded and funded by businessman and activist George Soros.
The money makes up 2.5% of Amnesty Ireland’s annual budget, but Irish law prohibits donations by foreign national to groups campaigning in elections or referendums. Amnesty is staunchly pro-choice and the money was earmarked for its My Body My Rights campaign ahead of next year’s referendum on whether to repeal the pro-life 8th amendment in Ireland’s constitution.
Read More: Ireland will hold an abortion referendum in 2018
The Standards in Public Office commission (SIPO) has ordered Amnesty to return the cheque but Colm O’Gorman, the organization’s CEO, said they will refuse to do so.
“We’re being asked to comply with a law that violates human rights, and we can’t do that,” he told the Irish Times.
The continued failure by the Irish media to give the story of @AmnestyIreland breaking the law is manifest evidence of their chronic bias.— David Quinn (@DavQuinn) December 11, 2017
Another pro-choice group, the Abortion Rights Campaign, were ordered to return a $25,000 cheque to Soros by SIPO in April this year.
Amnesty maintains that Ireland’s definition of what constitutes involvement in an election or referendum is too broad and has impacted their ability to campaign on certain issues.
We refuse to comply with a law that violates human rights. What else would you expect from an organisation that defends human rights? #BraveIreland #joinamnesty https://t.co/SGa5U8N3M1— Colm O'Gorman (@Colmogorman) December 8, 2017
However pro-life groups are outraged at Amnesty’s decision to ignore the commission.
“The arrogance they have shown in the past few days on this issue is staggering. They are now trying to argue that they have a ‘human right’ to take money from billionaires to push to have abortion legalization in Ireland, while they also argue that preborn children should not have the most basic human right of all – the right to life,” said Niamh Uí Bhriain - a spokeswoman from the Life-Institute.
This week an Oireachtas (Congressional) Committee on the 8th amendment recommended that the clause be removed from Ireland’s constitution and that abortion be allowed without restrictions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Read More: Irish Diaspora want their say in Repeal the 8th abortion debate
After the first trimester the committee concluded abortion should be allowed when a trans man or woman’s mental or physical health is at risk from continuation of the pregnancy.
Dáil Éireann (Parliament) will now decide the question that will be put to voters in next year’s referendum.