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Is Fine Gael finally realising its NGO funding mistake?

Betteridge’s Law of Headlines states that any headline which ends in a question mark is usually correctly answered by the word “no”.

In this case, that is almost certainly true, but it remains a question worth asking in the wake of this weekend’s remarkably funny spat between the National Women’s Council of Ireland on one side, and outraged Government politicians on the other. The whole thing centres around the announcement of a “woman’s rally” by the NWCI on March 5th of this year, which will feature opposition politicians ranging from the left, to the far left, to the “left is really far right”:

The absence of any Government politicians at this event was particularly outraging to Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil TDs. Josepha Madigan caught the mood nicely:

It seems to come as a surprise to the Minister, for some reason, that the kinds of people who are involved in organising events for the National Women’s Council of Ireland are left wingers who despise Fine Gael, and all that it stands for. The whole thing rather sums up the problem: For the guts of a decade, since it entered Government, Fine Gael has been chasing the votes of people who will never, until their dying day, cast a vote for the party.

What’s more, it has not simply pandered to this section of Irish society, but funded it. Lavishly. With taxes collected by the public. The National Women’s Council of Ireland is an explicitly left-wing organisation, with explicitly left wing goals, dedicated explicitly to the election of left wing women. It is also almost entirely funded with public money, supplied to it by Fine Gael.

Over the last decade, Fine Gael has bent the knee to these people daily, on almost every issue. It has shunted dramatically to the left on immigration, crime, gender quota laws, abortion, childcare, public spending, transgenderism, and just about every issue of concern to the NWCI. Even as you read this, a Fine Gael TD is pushing legislation through the Dáil that will mandate gender quotas for board positions in private companies.

And yet, here is the NWCI, organising what amounts to a left-wing rally against the Government, and Fine Gael, at which every opposition party is to be represented, while the Government sits indoors, being shouted at, and depicted as the villain. If it didn’t involve the use of public money, the whole thing would be objectively hilarious. Fine Gael politicians with left wing interest groups, at this stage, are like that rather pitiful young fellow we’ve all come across at some stage who can’t figure out that the woman of his dreams sees him as a friend and a confidante, and would recoil at the idea of anything more.

The serious issue, here, though, is this: Why is the Government funding this? The event on March 5th is, after all, an explicitly political one. It is to campaign for changes in the law. It is being organised, and promoted, using taxpayer funding. The staff organising it are being paid with money granted by the taxpayer.

This country has a law – the McKenna judgement – which explicitly bans the Government from spending public money in referendum campaigns to campaign on one side or another. The principle of that law is that it is unfair to take money from a voter, and then use that money to pay for propaganda targeted at the voter. The left, over the past 30 years, have figured out an ingenious way to get around that: Instead of having Government fund propaganda directly, they just fund organisations which engage in the propaganda for them. The NWCI, here, is exhibit A.

The fact of the matter is that billions of euros – literally billions – now flow from the taxpayer every year to organisations like this. And that we have created – thanks to Fine Gael – a bloated mass of organisations filled with well paid campaigners who add nothing productive to society, and are, in fact, incentivised to promote division. What Fine Gael never understood is that the NWCI can never be satisfied: The day woman’s equality is actually achieved in Ireland is the day the NWCI becomes a redundant organisation, and there is no longer any need to fund it. Therefore, as far as the NWCI is concerned, woman’s equality can never be truly achieved. There is always, must always, be another fight. And because the NWCI is fundamentally an organisation of the left, and Fine Gael is the least left wing (in theory) of all our parties, that fight will always be against… Fine Gael.

This is a terrible use of money. It promotes discord and polarisation. It provides a comfortable living for a whole class of ideologues. It ensures that no matter what Government does, there is always some lavishly funded crank there to say “it doesn’t go far enough”. It ensures that opposition politicians always have someone to grandstand to.

Fine Gael have made all this. It was disgraceful from the outset. It is, at least, comfort – albeit cold comfort – to see it kicking them, like Bishop Brennan, up the arse. Alas, I lack a house big enough to have Minister Madigan’s tweet blown up, ten by ten.

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