Soros’s money runs up against Irish laws barring foreign donations

By Dave Andrusko

George Soros

George Soros

It’s no longer a secret that pro-abortion billionaire George Soros, through his Open Society Foundation, has poured money into Ireland to undermine the country’s staunchly pro-life environment. But the Open Society Foundation’s generosity has stoked the curiosity of Ireland’s Standards in Public Office Commission which is charged with overseeing Ireland’s electoral funding law.

In separate stories, two sources, one pro-life and one pro-abortion, are reporting that “Soros money means legal trouble for Amnesty’s Ireland abortion campaign” (as the Catholic News Agency headlined their story) and “Irish Family Planning Association contacted about George Soros money” (the headline in the Irish Times).

Referring to Amnesty International, Kevin Jones reports

The Republic of Ireland’s Standards in Public Office Commission has told the human rights and pro-abortion legalization group to return about $160,000 in funds to the Soros foundations. According to the commission, the money violated Irish law barring foreign donations to third party groups seeking to influence the outcome of a referendum campaign.

No dice, says Amnesty International. In a December 8th statement, Colm O’Gorman, Amnesty International’s executive director, said that it would oppose the election funding law. “Amnesty International will not be complying with the instruction from the SIPOC and will deploy every means at its disposal to challenge this unfair law,” he said.

In this context what O’Gorman called Amnesty International’s “human rights work” is the repeal of the Eighth Amendment to the Republic of Ireland’s constitution which acknowledges “the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother.”

Pro-lifers complained about “The arrogance they have shown in the past few days on this issue is staggering,” as Niamh Ui Bhriain, a spokesperson for the Irish-based Life Institute, told CNA December. 11. “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.”

Ui Bhriain added that

the action shows the reliance of Irish pro-abortion rights campaigners on foreign funding. Millions of dollars in overseas funding have targeted Ireland’s pro-life laws for decades, as have other U.S. groups like the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“It’s made for a very un-level playing field in the abortion debate in Ireland,” she said.

Meanwhile the Irish Family Planning Association has some explaining of its own to do. Over the weekend the relentlessly pro-abortion Irish Times ran a story whose subhead was “Sipo expresses concerns that the grant contravenes Ireland’s rules on political funding.” Sipo is the aforementioned Standards in Public Office Commission.

“Both organisations [Amnesty International and the Irish Family Planning Association] received funding from Open Society in early 2016,” reports Colm Keena. “A third organisation that also got funding, Abortion Rights Campaign Ireland, received €25,000 [about $29,500] but returned it later in 2016, having been contacted by Sipo and having taken advice.”

According to Keena

It is understood Sipo contacted all three groups in the months after its attention was drawn to a hacked Open Society strategy report that said the foundation funded the three Irish organisations in the context of the pending abortion referendum.

“With one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world, a win there [Ireland] could impact other strongly Catholic countries in Europe, such as Poland, and provide much needed proof that change is possible, even in highly conservative places,” the leaked strategy document said.

Amnesty International was trying to “sell itself as being above the law and that is very wrong,” Cora Sherlock, spokeswoman for the Pro-Life Campaign, told the Irish Times. If the money was not returned it would “set a dangerous precedent,” she said.