Liam Herrick, ICCL Director Credit: ICCL Social Media

Less than 5% of the ICCL’s funding in 2020 came from membership fees and individual donations

A review of the accounts of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has shown that only 6.8% of the income noted by the organisation between 2018 and 2020 came from either membership fees or individual donations. Between 2019 and 2020 the ICCL took in only €15,000 in individual donations, with donations and membership fees being only 4% of the ICCL’s total income in 2020.

The ICCL has long promoted itself as being entirely independent, and the organisation recently took to Twitter to state that they are “completely independent of government and big business…because of the support of our members.” That statement may come as a surprise to regular readers given that Gript last year showed that the ICCL has accepted somewhere in the region of €2 million in funding from the EU since 2011.

However, it’s not just EU money the ICCL is drawing down; the majority of the ICCL’s funding between 2018 and 2020, the last year the ICCL has released accounts for, has come from either government money or donations from entities linked to either businesses or wealthy businesspeople.

The single largest donor to the ICCL over this period was the EU, which the ICCL say gave them €339,107 in 2018. The ICCL’s accounts also note €45,409 from the European Commission over the 2018-2020 period. The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, which is entirely government funded, is noted to have given the ICCL €38,500 over the period of interest. Altogether 22% of the ICCL’s funding over this period came directly, and entirely, from government monies.

The ICCL notes that it received €56,903 from the Community Foundation of Ireland over this period, and the Community Foundation does receive government support, but it’s not clear how much of the monies paid to the ICCL, if any, came from government sources. In the interest of fairness, we’ll assume all monies paid by the Community Foundation were entirely unrelated to either the government or business.

The second most substantial donor to the ICCL during this period was the British charity the Sigrid Rausing Trust (SRT), which has agreed to give the ICCL £360,000 between 2020 and 2023. The ICCL has previously been given £450,000 in donations from the SRT. The SRT was formerly known as the Ruben and Elisabeth Rausing Trust, after the Swedish industrialist Ruben Rausing, who founded Tetra Pak, a company with an annual revenue of over €10 billion, and his wife Elisabeth. Sigrid Rausing, Ruben’s grand-daughter, became the chair of the trust in 1995, and it was renamed to the SRT in 2003. The British Charity Regulator note that the SRT does not raise funds from the public.

Other entities linked to business which donated to the ICCL over this period include the Open Society Foundation (OSF), which gave €244,560 to the ICCL between 2018 and 2020; the Luminate Group, which gave €130,397; and Atlantic Philanthropies, which gave €125,000. All of these entities are strongly linked to business. OSF is funded by the billionaire financier George Soros; the Luminate Group is funded by the Omidyar Group, which is owned by Pierre Omidyar, one of the founders of eBay, and his wife Pam; and Atlantic Philanthropies was funded by businessman Chuck Feeney.

These four entities, all of which appear to be directly connected to substantial business interests, provided more than 40% of the income of the ICCL between 2018 and 2020.

The third-donor of the ICCL over this period was the International Network for Civil Liberties Organisations (INCLO), who gave the ICCL €315,187. We were unable to acquire detailed annual accounts for the INCLO, and so we were unable to determine exactly who is funding it, but the organisation shares an office with a Swiss “international family boutique” focusing on “wealth structuring and preservation for an exclusive clientele of high value families”– Allina Family Office (AFO). AFO say they are “specialists in forming and managing trusts and corporate entities.”

The contact page of the INCLO asks that you direct any correspondence with the INCLO directly to Allina Family Office.

We have asked the INCLO to explain how they have been funded over the 2018-2020 period, and the purpose behind the grants given to the ICCL during that time, but have yet to receive a response.

Funding from the INCLO represents another 17% of the ICCL’s income over this period. Whilst we cannot determine the providence of the INCLO’s funding if we were to assume it is linked in some fashion to business, given that it operates out of the offices of a Swiss wealth management fund, that would mean that 82% of the ICCL’s total income over the 2018 to 2020 period came from either government funds or entities linked to business. If we assume that the INCLO money is entirely unrelated to either government or business it would still mean that 65% of the ICCL’s total income over the 2018 to 2020 period came from either government funds or entities linked to business.

The only other substantial source of income for the ICCL is the Trust for Civil Liberties, Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which gave the ICCL €106,826 between 2018 and 2020. The Trust is the registered charity of the ICCL, which is itself not a charity but rather a company limited by guarantee. It’s unclear where the Trust’s donations came from, so we shall assume, again in the interest of fairness, that donations to the Trust have no link to government or business.

Regardless of the providence of certain funds it appears absolutely clear that the ICCL is not, as they have repeatedly claimed, completely independent of government and big business and operating based on the support of the Irish public, but rather an organisation whose funding is tied to their relationship with a very small collection of institutional donors.

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