Rethink Ireland at centre of nexus between NGOs, Woke Capital, & State

During a discussion regarding NGOs with one of our chums at the RDS, the obvious point was made that surely a more efficient way of using the state funding that is channelled through the NGOs would be for Government departments to give the money directly to the intended beneficiaries. 

That, however, would do away with one of the raisons d’etre of the larger NGOs which is to act as mediators for that money. 

It not only creates lots of jobs for people who have made the NGOs their life path in the same way as other people become bus drivers or electricians or teachers, but also helps to maintain the illusion that they are charities generously engaged in helping others less fortunate.

Which is why they invariably describe their own wages and overheads as ‘charitable activities’   – with this spend often accounting for the bulk of their expenditure. Of course, what they do is no more a “charitable activity” than the person working in the INTREO centre who facilitates the transfer of state welfare, nor even the person in the motor taxation office who sends you out your discs.

Rethink Ireland, formerly, and still formally registered as, Social Innovation Ireland is a perfect example of a large company that exists for no other purpose than to dispense other people’s money. Mostly your own (you being the long-suffering taxpayer) as it happens. 

In 2022 Rethink employed 40 people with a wage bill of €1.8 million.  Its total income was €12,164,807, of which €6,185,807 (51%) came from the state and the rest from philanthropy. 

The companies sending Rethink Ireland fistfulls of cash include ultra-woke global outfits like Google, and AIB, who were bailed out by you and I back in 2008. 

Rethink describes, as its vision, “an Ireland that is more just, equal and sustainable because of social innovation.” It has amassed a fund of close to €100 million in order to advance that project, of which €17.5 million was handed out in 2022. 

It is apparent when you look at some of the 185 recipients which Rethink granted in 2022 that this simply acts as a top up on what they already get, either from the state or Woke foundations.  

Among the advocacy NGOs which benefited in 2022 were Nasc, the Cultúr Migrant Centre, the Irish Refugee Council, and of course the Irish Council for Civil Liberties – though Rethink are not mentioned in the ICCL 2022 accounts for some reason. 

There was a specific ‘Equality Fund’ from which Uplift were granted money to fund the Far Right Observatory which has now morphed into something called the Hope and Courage Collective which recently published a pretty mediocre document claiming to be a report on how the For Roysh was confronted with the aid of NGOs. 

What part of “equality” justifies paying some left activist to write that presumably makes sense to somebody in Rethink or Uplift.

Also wetting their beaks in the ‘Equality Fund’ were the Sex Workers Alliance, Pavee Point, the lesbian advocacy group LINC – which unlike a growing number of gay women’s groups accepts the transgender ideology – and the Irish Network Against Racism. 

The eleven grantees were given €603,000 in total to promote “equality” – with the Equality Fund having one of the largest fund disbursements of the 17 funds operated by Rethink Ireland. 

The 2022 report includes thanks for funding received from Pádraig MacNeela, the Project Lead for the Active Consent programme in NUIG. MacNeela has called for the age of consent to be lowered and co-authored a report calling for teenagers to be taught “porn literacy” as part of their sex education in schools. 

While it is difficult to describe Rethink as anything other than a middleman in terms of the dispersing of grants, it also seems to attempt to ensure that only right thinking, or rather left thinking, groups are approved in certain sectors. So in that way they act as a gatekeeper – apart, it would seem, from the sort of groups they favour and the sort of projects they fund. 

They also, in 2020, took it upon themselves to decide to print a poster of Imelda May’s ‘poem’, ‘You Don’t Get to be racist and Irish’ – which they now boast has been selected to be part of the school curriculum.  Bring back Dangerous Dan McGrew and the poetical works of Robert Service, is what I say.


The diagram above is a good illustration of the type of NGO world which was the aim of Atlantic Philanthropies.

It contains all of the key elements of Woke Capital, the state, academic research funded by and designed around objectives of the key funders, and of course the various NGOs.

Indeed, it is notable that John Healy, once a key figure in the administration of Atlantic Philanthropies funding in Ireland, remains central to the social innovation strategy of Rethink and the other main administrators of NGO funding.

Healy spends part of his time now with the European Social Fund which is involved in grant aiding the Irish NGOs, and is the deputy executive director of Genio which has been the conduit of €41 million in state funding and €27 million from Atlantic. 

Healy was on the Consortium Executive Committee of FUSE – Facilitating United Social Innovation across Europe in which Rethink and Genio are the Irish leads in a programme to coordinate the funding and operation of “social innovation” NGOs.

The Advisory Committee, Steering Group and National Advisory Consultative Group for FUSE in Ireland contain representatives of all the main actors in this. Bairbre Mac Aongusa, the Assistant General Secretary of the Department of Rural and Community Development is there, as is “angel investor,” one time a director of the Irish Times, Brian Caulfield of Scale Ireland.

Irish academia is represented by Dr. Gemma Donnelly-Cox of the Trinity Centre for Social Innovation which used to be the Centre for Nonprofit Organisation and Management and was set up with Atlantic Philanthropies funding of €1.5 million, and Clodagh O’Reilly of the Technological University, Dublin. 

Denise Charlton, who you might remember from the Immigrant Council of Ireland and Women’s Aid, is there in her capacity as CEO of the Community Foundation. Eilís Murray is the Philanthropy Ireland rep, and there are others from Scale Ireland, Wake Up Capital and Social Science Foundation who represent “Industry/Philanthropy.” There are also a range of people from NGO umbrellas like The Wheel, Northside Partnership, and Monaghan Integrated Development. 

The CEO of Rethink is Deirdre Mortell who describes her life as “changing the world one step at a time.” She was previously with Uplift – which as we have seen is a grantee of Rethink – One Foundation, Barnardo’s and Oxfam.  

Minister Simon Harris’ brother Adam, a member of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, is a director of Rethink. 

Interestingly, Áine Kerr, the co-founder of Kinzen, whose role during the Covid panic was exposed by Gary Kavanagh of this parish, also pops up as a Rethink director. 

Kinzen, a company founded by former RTÉ presenter Mark Little, and former Irish Independent reporter Áine Kerr, received almost €110,000 of public money over a nine month span, In order to help the Department of Health “combat misinformation” on Covid-19. 

Kerr is the wife of Labour TD, and former Minister of State at the Department of Health, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.

After being advised by Kinzen, the HSE reported tweets to Big Tech companies as “misinformation”  – including an article from an associate editor of the British Medical Journal, and political comments about lockdowns and anti-lockdown protests, even when those comments contained no medical claims or references to COVID-19.

The former managing director of Beamish and Crawford brewers and ESB board member Alf Smiddy is on the Rethink board. Another board member, Niamh O’Donoghue, was previously a director of Common Purpose which has quietly penetrated many layers of NGO and official life here.

One could go on – and that is our intention – lifting some of the veil on the vast network yet intimate circle that lies at the heart of the nexus between the NGOs. Big Capital and the Irish state. 

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