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OPW: No, we won’t tell you why Common Purpose gets a free office

Gript has previously referred to what it might be described as what seems like the cosy relationship between a leading Woke NGO and the Irish political elite.

The organisation in question is Common Purpose which, according to itself, has a global reach and most likely an income that dwarfs that of many state-funded entities. Yet, for reasons that are unclear, the organisation continues to live “rent free” at the expense of the Irish taxpayer, while at the same time charging government departments for its services in providing training.

Details of the financial relationship between Common Purpose and the state reveal that Common Purpose has earned more than €300,000 in payments from state departments between 2015 and 2021 alone, but that it also availed of free public office space at 31-35 Bow Street in Dublin that is owned by the Office of Public Works.

Common Purpose has since 2003 been hosted by the state at this address which conservatively has been worth at least €200,000 in saved rentals. In it’s 2020 financial statement, Common Purpose itself refers to the fact that “operates in premises provided by the Office of Public Works at no cost.” It estimated this to be worth an estimated benefit of “circa €20k.”

Common Purpose must be really nice folk to have accumulated such good will from the nice people who run Ireland.

From the perspective of us Deplorables who obviously need additional learning on how to be nice, one might take the cynical view that not only does Common Purpose charge the Irish taxpayer top dollar for training its public servants to be nicer people, but it effectively sticks them with another bill on top of all of that. A Niceness Levy, you might call it.

Carol Nolan the Rural Independent Group TD for Laois Offaly has asked several questions through the Dáil on this strange relationship between this organisation and the Irish state.

Responses to Deputy Nolan’s questions and Freedom of Information requests sent by her office and Gript have been rather lacking in substance.

Deputy Nolan did receive a letter from the Minister of State at the Office of Public Works, Patrick O’Donovan, back in October informing her that “the arrangement” which had facilitated the rather strange financial deal, was “now being reviewed by the OPW.”

One might have thought that perhaps the Minister himself had thought “Oh, hold on a minute now. We have commercial arrangements with businesses who rent office and shop space from us, so why have we let these people crash for free for the past 18 years?”

Perhaps, as a chap elected by good people of County Limerick, he may even have wondered how he might explain this to the no doubt lengthy list of people from his own constituency who legitimately lobby their elected representatives for consideration regarding the funding of sports facilities, services for the elderly, rural bus routes and so on.

Not so, it would seem, for on November 30, Minister O’Donovan responded by stating that – having presumably reviewed the free office accommodation gifted to Common Purpose – “The position in relation to the occupancy of this body in the property at Bow Street has not changed…”

So, we may take it that Common Purpose will continue to live at our expense while simultaneously advancing an ideologically grounded “leadership programme” through leading public officials in key Departments such as Education. We also get to pick up the tab for that.

Perhaps the real answer to Common Purpose having carved itself such a comfortable niche, remarkable even among the cosseted and vastly funded leftie liberal NGO labyrinth which extracts so much money from the public purse, is to just look at who its members are.

In the meantime, the Minister, and the OPW are effectively telling us that they won’t tell either Carol Nolan TD or you the taxpayer why Common Purpose gets a free taxpayer-funded office. Curiouser and curiouser.

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