OPINION: Beware of big donations from wealthy Americans

December 18th, 2017 11:40 AM

By Southern Star Team

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HERE’S a good one: Colm O’Gorman, head honcho of the Irish branch of Amnesty International might yet turn out to be a sort of martyr for the very thing he advocates, human rights!

Not like Joan of Arc or Jesus Christ, of course, but rather someone who falls victim to cruel laws and ends up under lock and key, as happened to O’Gorman’s butty, Idil Eser, director of Amnesty Turkey who was arrested for a crime he didn’t commit.

Not that O’Gorman did wrong. Certainly not!

The problem is this: some months ago, an American billionaire, George Soros, was so impressed with Amnesty Ireland’s stance on the forthcoming Abortion Referendum that he sent a sack-load of spondulicks to the organisation. A whopping €137,000 in total!

You see, Mr Soros wants Ireland to abolish the Eight Amendment to the Constitution – which states that the right to life of the mother and the unborn child are equal.


Wealth helps

Pro-abortion supporters want the amendment to go and pro-life advocates want it to stay. Mr Soros has weighed-in on the side of the pro-abortionists and believes his huge wealth can help repeal Ireland’s constitutional prohibition of abortion. Americans are like that, dontcha know, well-meaning!

The only problem is the law of the land. Ireland’s law of the land! Under The Electoral Act 1997 (as amended in 2001), overseas donations of more than €100 cannot be made to ‘third party’ organisations for political purposes; and any violation of said law can carry a penalty of up to three years’ imprisonment. 

(By the way, ‘third party’ means any individual or group, beyond political parties or election candidates; the term ‘political purposes’ is taken to mean ‘a campaign conducted with a view to promoting or procuring a particular outcome in relation to a policy or policies or functions of the Government or any public authority’).

The dreadful implication of Amnesty’s acceptance of American loot is that the organisation seriously erred by accepting ‘an overseas donation of more than €100 for political purposes.’ Hence, the prospect that some of its members might do porridge for breaking the law.

It’s not as if the SIPCO warning came out of the blue.  Earlier this year another pro-abortion lobby got a pressie of  ,000 from Mr Soros. The happy recipient on that occasion was a group that operates under the moniker ‘Abortion Rights Campaign.’ 

Once The Standards in Public Office Commission learned of the donation, it informed the Abortion Rights Campaign of a possible breach of the law. It advised the group that the contribution should be returned. It speedily was.


Mystery man

So, who is this meddling Mr George Soros? Well, he’s one of the world’s richest people. He made his fortune (€22 billion) from managing hedge funds and he’s somewhat famous for horning in on the internal politics of countries other than the United States.

For instance, he’s poked his nose into the political affairs of Poland, Georgia, Zimbabwe, Kosovo, and Somaliland, and he demanded that the European Union give million of bailout money to Ukraine, a head-the-ball failed state. He also called for robust sanctions against Russia on the basis that Europe was ‘under attack’ from that country.

He very much believes in the efficacy of American capitalism and, as well, he has a reputation for being a bit of a philanthropist. He’s donated millions of dollars to causes that he thinks will bring social, political and sexual advancement to dog-eared, god-awful countries, such as Ireland; as well as being accused of undermining democracy in several countries.


Inside track

Mr Soros well knows this country. For instance, between 2013 and 2016, he managed a huge hedge fund in Dublin, Hibernia Reit, which owned or operated residential and commercial developments across the country. As well, he had stakes in Elan, Amarin, and Ardmore Shipping.

Here’s the interesting bit. Bloomberg recently commented that his Irish hedge fund repaid just dollars in taxes to this country. A singular contribution to the Irish economy, indeed!

And that, said the financial analysts, was on an amazingly low ,850 net income base through 2013. The remaining .2 billion operating income was allocated to investors!

Put that in yer pipe for the merits of capitalism, as the philosopher in Dinty’s might say.

The following year Soros closed shop in Dublin and headed for the even more tax-friendly Cayman Islands.

But, it also has to be said, that the philanthropic Mr Soros actually tried to do something about home repossessions in Ireland. He allocated one of his senior lawyers to work with Irish lawyers in holding finance seminars for the public.

They highlighted the failure of Irish courts to apply European law in eviction cases. And Mr Soros had some success. A judge ordered a judicial review of a case in Waterford!


Stout defence

Question is, will the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPOC) come the heavy on the executive director of Amnesty Ireland, Mr O’Gorman?  Who knows?

Nonetheless even if Amnesty’s pro-abortion argument has lost much of its sparkle (thanks to Mr Soros), Mr O’Gorman is showing us the mettle that he’s made of. He’s purposeful and determined.

Here is an extract of what he said: ‘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.  

We believe this law (The Electoral Act) contravenes Ireland’s obligations under international human rights law, including the rights to freedom of association and expression.

‘What we do know is that some domestic and international groups that oppose our work on the rights of women and girls, and some elements of the media, have been painting our campaign to reform Ireland’s abortion law as “controversial” or “too political.” They have also portrayed foreign funding as somehow sinister.

‘Amnesty International is completely independent of any political ideology, economic interest or religion.’


Crunch question

Amnesty, however, is not addressing the crunch question, which is this: is it politically desirable that a controversial American should interfere officiously, and without right or invitation, in the political affairs of this country? Why should this guy, unknown to most of the population, be allowed influence the outcome of an important Irish referendum and expect to get away with it?

What’s Amnesty up to? Has its objective – ‘to campaign for Prisoners of Conscience jailed for their beliefs by authoritarian regimes’ – been thrown aside and replaced by what some critics see as  a modish inversion of the organisation’s own principles?

Certainly, the approval that it gives to American interference in a direct popular vote by Irish people is a matter that provokes much unease and raises many questions. Worse still, a mockery has been made of Amnesty’s onetime capability to convince others how the world should be. And that’s sad!


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