A group calling for pro-life vigils at abortion centres to be banned has received tens of thousands in funding from George Soros, and previously received more than $12 million dollars from another U.S. billionaire, Chuck Feeney.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has repeatedly called for pro-life protests to be banned, even though it states that the right to protest is “a fundamental part of our democracy”.

The ICCL raised less than €6000 from Irish people in membership fees in 2018, but its coffers were boosted by hundreds of thousands in donations from liberal foundations from abroad and by taxpayer funding, including a €64,476 donation from Soros and almost €340,000 from the European Union.

They also received €18,500 from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission in 2018, with a total income of €830,000 for that year alone.

The civil liberties group had made very little impact until it received millions from U.S. billionaire Chuck Feeney to build campaigns to change the law on issues such as gay marriage and become a voice campaigning for abortion.

Last year, it demanded that pro-life vigils at abortion centres be banned, calling for an “immediate legislation for safe zones around abortion clinics.”
The ICCL claimed that protests at abortion clinics were “targetting [sic] women with the intention of deterring them from accessing health services.”

However, in September 2019, the Garda Commissioner Dew Harris confirmed that there was no evidence of threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour directed at women by pro-lifers holding vigil at abortion centres. Furthermore, the Commissioner said that no new laws were needed to ensure “safe access” to abortion.

However, this week the ICCL again urged the Minister for Health to introduce “safe zones” around abortion centres.

Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said that it was “extraordinary, contradictory and quite sinister” for the ICCL to seek to silence pro-life vigils.

“The ICCL says its mission is about defending civil liberties but then it flatly contradicts its own mission by seeking to ban peaceful protests when it doesn’t agree with the stance of the protestors. Presumably any law which they seek to enforce will have criminal sanctions, so a civil liberties group is supporting a government push to criminalise protesters opposing government policy, even though the police have made it clear that no crime is being committed and no new laws are required,” the pro-life spokeswoman said.

“Coming hot on the heels of the push to have criticism of government policy categorised as hate-speech, this is a worrying development. It is extraordinary, contradictory and quite sinister for the ICCL – an outfit mostly funded from abroad by people like George Soros – to seek to silence pro-life vigils, and to ultimately criminalise peaceful protesters.,” she said.