Irish High Court quashes SIPO order for Amnesty International Ireland to return foreign donation

The Irish High Court has quashed an order of the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) to return a grant made to Amnesty International Ireland for breach of the Electoral Act 1997.

In November 2017, SIPO sought the return of a €137,000 donation that was made by OSF in August 2015 to fund a ‘My Body, My Rights Campaign’. The campaign involved increasing public and political support for Repeal of the 8th Amendment, and collaborating with other groups working of access to safe and legal abortion. No referendum was planned or had been called at the time of the donation. SIPO believed this to be a foreign donation for political purposes which is prohibited under Section 23 A2 of the 1997 Act.

SIPO consented to quashing the order in a letter read in court which described the process leading to the decision as procedurally flawed. SIPO also confirmed that OSF had not communicated with it that the donation was for political purposes.

Welcoming the decision, Amnesty voiced remaining concern at the vague and overly broad wording of the 1997 Act which it believes “contravenes Ireland’s obligations under international human rights law, including the rights to freedom of association and expression.”

Click here for the press release from Amnesty International Ireland.

Click here for The Wheel’s blog post on the political funding rules.




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