In some countries it might be expected that an organisation with civil liberties on the label might be at the forefront of questioning any proposal that appears to impose limitations on normal discourse. Not so with the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL).
The big “civil liberties” issue in Ireland at the present time is the Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill which has been approved by the Dáil but still awaits final approval and is therefore in somewhat of a limbo as Minister for Justice Helen McEntee is also apparently reviewing the legislation.
That extraordinary situation arose as a consequence of a small number of TDs and Senators, along with Gript and others, questioning its provisions and leading to significant public unease and apparent disapproval. On September 16, Gript will be hosting a conference along with Free Speech Ireland to address some of those concerns,
The ICCL has been fully behind the legislation, and despite the hiatus and any suggestion that it might have had some reservations about the Bill as it currently stands, it “welcomes the progression of hate crime legislation through the Oireachtas.”
It is also happy to take the credit for having been the lead role organisation in the Coalition Against Hate Crime Ireland, which is composed of 22 NGOs claiming to represent “communities commonly targeted by hate crime and hate speech.”
This group, chaired by the ICCL, rather than challenging the state on possible restrictions on the exercise of free speech against an arbitrarily selected group of “protected” categories, were at the forefront in pushing both the measures proposed, and their support helped shape the nodding dog debate that led to its overwhelming approval by the Dail.
In fact, the majority of the speeches made by both Government and opposition TDs and Senators during the debate on the Bill almost sounded, at least to those of us who had to suffer through them, as if they were comprised of cut and pastes from the lobbying and briefing documents supplied by the ICCL and their allies.
Not content with that, the ICCL has used its pre-Budget submission to argue for €2 million to be devoted to “make the legislation work,” even though the eagle-eyed of you might have noticed that the legislation is not in fact formally in place yet. This money is proposed to be divided between €500,000 for the purposes of “public awareness and education,” and another initial spend of €1.5 million on an “action plan to tackle hate crime.”
That would only be the first tranche of what the ICCL apparently sees as an annual stipend for the “impacted communities.” So will that mean that the money will be divvied up and dispensed to every person who can claim to be a member of a “protected group”? By God it will not.
What it will mean, I would imagine, is that the NGOs who are part of the Coalition will be the ones who will be in charge of raising public awareness and implementing the “action plan.” That is the way these things tend to work.
The ICCL total demand is for a “tiny investment” of €10,340,000 to be spent on employing more people from among their own community of human rights inclined legal people. The lucky applicants will be variously employed by the Police Ombudsman office, to examine security legislation, as 20 new state solicitors, and as additional staff for the Data Protection Commission and the Coroners Office.
Some of these people are also to be paid the kind of salaries the rest of us non-NGO wage-slaves could only dream of.
A review of Terrorism Legislation would require an “Independent examiner” who can expect to earn €900 per day for 150 days, totalling €135,000 for a part-time gig – and a special advisor for the same project can also look forward to totting up €750 per day with a total cost of €112,500 for those 150 days.
Interestingly, while the ICCL document begins with a claim that their demands for 2024 will cost €10,340,000, by the end this has mysteriously transmogrified into €10,374,000. In fact, if you add up the sums at the end of each section the total comes to €11,047,000. Perhaps they know some fact checkers who might puzzle that one. Preferably before they submit their demands on the taxpayer.
The ICCL itself is not short of a few Euro. Founded as a voluntary organisation in 1976 by Kadar Asmal and with the participation of Mary Robinson and others, the ICCL now has an annual income of €1,182,622. That represents an increase of more than €200,000 on 2021, As Gary Kavanagh noted of their 2020 report, less than 5% of their income came from membership fees.
That has fallen to just €15,782 in their accounts for 2022 which amounts to just 1.33% of their overall income. Whatever else they are, the ICCL is not a popular organisation. Nor can it claim that it is “independent of government and big business.” The details of where it gets its money proves that, even if its support for Government legislation was not sufficient of a hint, that it is certainly not financially independent of either.
For the ICCL list of donors is literally a list of billionaire left liberal foundations, along with the EU Commission, and entities such as the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC.) which channel Irish state funds.
The foundations such as the Soros Open Society and others have made no secret of their support for abortion, especially in countries like Ireland where it was previously restricted. The ICCL at some stage decided that abortion constituted a civil liberty, not on the part of the unborn of course.
So, the bulk of ICCL funding comes from people whose wealth originated in “big business.” The ICCL is also one of just 15 organisations globally that receive funding from the rather mysterious International Network for Civil Liberties Organisations (INCLO) which bunged the ICCL more than 80k last year.
No one knows who actually funds the Swiss based INCLO although as Gary Kavanagh pointed out it appears to be connected to the Allina Family group which looks after “high value” clients. Intriguingly, the Allina Family in Ireland page tempts overseas investors with our “low corporation tax rate” and also contains a link to how leftie capitalists might consider establishing a charitable trust.