Tag Archives: Colm O’Gorman

From top: George Soros; From left, Colm’ O’Gorman, David Quinn and Sean O’Rourke

Amnesty International Ireland has so far resisted demands by the The Standards in Public Office [SIPO]  to return a 137,000 donation to fund a campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment from Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.

Amnesty Ireland’s Colm O’Gorman appeared on RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Sean O’Rourke this morning alongside David Quinn, whose pro-life Iona Institute has been criticised in the past for accepting foreign donations.

O’ Gorman: “…We are in discussion with the standards in public office about a flawed amendment to the Electoral Act of 2001 that they have acknowledged is deeply flawed and that a decision they made recently is both unjust and , quite likely, contrary to law,

Sean O’Rourke: “Just tell us about the money?

O’Gorman: Well first of all it didn’t come from George Soros. It came from a human rights foundation called the Open Society which was established by a large endowment [$18 billion] from George Soros. Unsurprisingly human rights foundations give money to human rights organisations to do human rights work and that what happened in this case.

We received a donation of 150,294 US dollars – almost a 137,000 euros at the time that we received it- for our work to secure human right compliant framework for abortion in Ireland. We publicly announced that grant. We published details of it on our website in January of 2016 and we got on with our work as we would do as a human rights organisation and as others do.

In Summer of 2016, DC Leaks, The Washington-based entity that put out the hacked material from the DNC hack earlier in the Summer published materiel from a hack from the Open Society Foundation and within that there was a strategy document that talked about how they would fund a number of organisations in Ireland to work on a campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment. That found its way on to global pro-life websites and found its way into the hands of pro life activists here in Ireland and then it found its way into the Irish media and a story developed on the back of all that.

Following on from that we had a detailed inquiry from the Standards in Public office Commission asking us to clarify the grant, the purpose for which we received it, to forward on to them any correspondence between ourselves and the foundation in relation to the grant. We responded in detail to that request, we supplied them with information that clarified that we had received the grant from the Open Society’s Foundation in New York, the amount of the grant received and exactly what the grant would be used to do. So, we made it clear that the grant would be used to fund a campaign, to part fund a campaign to ensure a human rights compliant framework for abortion in Ireland and that would mean the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, changes in law. We then set out very, clearly…”

O’Rourke [interrupting]:. “OK That’s the case you’ve made at length.”

O’Gorman: “No in a page and a half summary we set out very clearly the activities that would flow from that and at that point SIPO responded to say that on the basis of all that information we were not required to register the third party and that was on the 13th of October, 2016.”

O’Rourke: “But the position has been reversed.”

O’Gorman: “A year later they reverse that decision with a month to go before that campaign ends and when, indeed as people will appreciate, we have gotten on and done the work that was funded and ruled legitimate a year ago..”.

O’Rourke: “David Quinn, what’s wrong with all or any of that?”

David Quinn: “Well SIPO has said that what Amnesty is doing is in breach of the law. And Amnesty has said ‘we’re not going to obey the law’.”

O’Rourke: “Nope, we haven’t”

Quinn: “Well no in your statement you said you believe that Irish law breaches international human rights protocols and that you don’t agree with the law and you think it is far too restrictive. I happen to agree that the electoral act is far too restrictive. I think it’s far too restrictive around issues of donations but you can’t hold yourself above the law.

I mean I have been asked so many times as a director of Iona, ‘where are you getting your money from?’ and ‘Are you SIPO compliant?’ and the answer is ‘we are Sipo compliant’. I am asked: ‘Do you get money from America?’. We do not get money from America, unless you count an Irishman giving us 100 a month by standing order.”

O’Gorman: “Then you do take money from America?”

Quinn: “Well, it’s hardly…a 100 a month by standing order doesn’t compare with a hundred…

O’Gorman: “Hang on, David…”

Quinn: “You’ve had plenty of time to speak. One hundred and thirty seven thousand from Geroge Soros’ foundation, the Open Society and the same amount, by the way, to two other pro choice organisations. We are continually hounded about whether we get foreign funding and we field plenty of calls from journalists about this.

On this particular issue the media by and large, this programme being an exception because here we are debating it. and also the politicans have been the dog that didn’t bark. They have said practically nothing about this.

When Declan Ganley appeared on the scene in 2007 to campaign against the first Lisbon Treaty he was hounded from here to kingdom come about where he was getting his money from and whether it was foreign-sourced and was told continually that he was breaking the law – and he was SIPO-compliant – and this story went on for about a year.

The Irish Times pursued it. RTÉ pursued it. Prime Time had a big documentary about it and here we have no fuss whatsoever about this story. It has been treated by the media about as important as tax evasion by a minor celeb.”

O’Rourke: “On the question of the ruling by SIPO [ to Mr O’Gorman] you don’t like it. You say it’s a reversal of the position adopted a year ago but nonetheless they have a statutory responsibility to implement the law and presumably you beleive in adhering to the law?”

O’Gorman: “We believe in the rule of law absolutely and we believe that this decision by SIPO is deeply flawed on a number of levels. First of all, we think the principle upon which they have approached the law is deeply flawed and likely illegal if not under Irish law at least under international law.. .

O’Rourke: “Why don’t you see a judicial review?”

O’Gorman: “What I have said is, we will not comply with the instruction because it gravely violates freedoms and human rights.”

O’Rourke: “Who is the arbiter?”

O’Gorman: “…and that we will consider and use every available means that we can to challenge that decision. That clearly includes considering whether or not and if and how a legal challenge to that decision is the most appropriate way to do so. It is absolutely our right or anyone else’s right in this Ireland who if they have been the subject of an administrative decision by a regulator that they feel in unjust or unlawful to initially indicate…

O’Rourke: “But why don’t you take the view that you will challenge it as opposed to saying you won’t comply with it?”

O’Gorman: “What do you mean…Of course we’re challenging it as I have just said…”

O’Rourke: “No, you said you won’t comply.”

O’Gorman: “Sean, we have repeatedly made it clear that we will challenge this by every means necessary. Now if people want to take a sentence and take it out of context and try and make a big drama out of it to get a bang too on radio, I’m not suggesting you are doing that, but that’s a matter for them. We’ve been really clear about our position. Now I want to respond to some of the things David said. First of all, it is not true that the three organisations got similar amounts. One of the organisations got a very small amount, was subject to the threat of criminal prosecution by SIPO and then returned it.:

Quinn: “This is the Abortion Rights Campaign?”

O’Gorman: “The Abortion Rights Campaign…but that’s actually not true..”

Quinn: “But it is nevertheless foreign funding for a political campaign…

[talk over each other]

O’Gorman: That’s one of the things you said that wasn’t true. The next thing that isn’t true..

Quinn: “You are being pedantic. They were receiving money from a foreign source for a political campaign which is against the electoral act.”

O’Gorman: If you make a point and it’s inaccurate I’m perfectly entitles to correct you. That was wrong.”

Quinn: “It was in breach of the law that’s why it was handed back.”

O’Gorman: “The next point is that if you are accepting an overseas donation, albeit from an irish citizen who is living in the states, that is a breach of the electoral act..”

Quinn: “If it’s for a political purpose.”

O’Gorman: “It is also the case that wehn Iona launched a campaign seeking funds for itsd Marriage Equality referendum in 2014 and suggesting for instance if we can get a 100 people to give us a 100 euros each…

Quinn: “It was SIPO compliant. You are not SIPO-compliant.”

O’Gorman: “Not when you launched the appeal, not when you were challenged about whether or not you would be SIPO compliant, you initially refused to register with SIPO.”

Quinn: “Why are you making it about Iona, We are SIPO compliant.”

O’Gorman: “You are now, David.”

[talk over each other]

O’Rourke:: “Are you drawing an equivalence between him theoretically getting a 100 euros from the states with you getting 137,000?”

O’ Gorman: I am trying to draw a link between someone who is telling us he believes the law is unjust and that we should comply with it? When he is making it very clear that he doesn’t.”

Quinn: We do comply with the law. We are SIPO comploiant. You arenot SIPO compliant and so far you are getting away with it.”

Listen back here

Rollingnews

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From top: The results of a poll on last night’s Claire Byrne Live which was attended by Colm O’Gorman and David Quinn (third pic) and Michael O’Brien, above

Last night.

On RTÉ One’s Claire Byrne Live.

Colm O’Gorman, of Amnesty Ireland, and Irish Independent columnist David Quinn, of Iona Institute, joined Claire Byrne for a debate on the Catholic Church and the State.

Members of the audience also spoke, including Michael O’Brien, who, in 2009, spoke on Questions and Answers about the abuse he suffered at an industrial school and how he was told he was telling lies at the Laffoy/Ryan Commission.

Last night, Mr O’Brien accused Mr Quinn of telling him, in a Dáil committee room, that ‘it didn’t happen as bad as you’re saying’. Mr Quinn said he never met Mr O’Brien in a Dáil committee room.

Donald Clarke, of The Irish Times, also spoke from the audience recalling a column he wrote on June 7, 2014, headlined: ‘If you don’t approve of the church then don’t take part in its rituals’.

Readers may wish to note that the latest Census figures for religion won’t be available until October 12.

From last night’s debate.

Michael O’Brien:All we have is denial, denial, denial. And the one thing that I will propose: that the assets of the Catholic Church be frozen and frozen now. Until the mother and babies, the institutional abuse, the clerical abuse and the magdalene laundries – all that is sorted out for once and for all so that this country can move, as it did years ago, as a peaceful country. And not for us to be listening, day after day, day after day. Because when you talk about abuse, I feel, as if it only happened to me a few minutes ago. And this is the problem we have.”

“The Catholic Church has denied and denied and covered up, from the first day. And not one Bishop, not one who covered it up has been brought into one of our courts.”

Claire Byrne: “Michael, do you not feel that things are moving? When we have the Taoiseach saying, only yesterday, that the church must measure up to the responsibilities that they accepted. Do you not feel that that’s a fundamental shift?

O’Brien:I can’t believe the Taoiseach any more because I remember when they removed the ambassador from the Vatican – a big hullaballoo. What did he do? He sent him back again. He put an ambassador back in there again. And went soft on the church. And because the mother and babies [story] came, this disgrace upon all of us, a shame upon all of us, that this thing happened, he now, again, is battering, shouting at the church.”

“I’m shouting at the church because I know what the church done to me and what two or three individuals of the church done to me. It’s easy to stand there, you, David [Quinn]. You know nothing about being raped and buggered. You know nothing about it. I do. I do. And four of my brothers and three of my little sisters – the same thing happened to them. Eight of us from the one family.”

Byrne: “Ok, Michael, I just…”

O’Brien: “So don’t…”

Byrne: “I just don’t want to put David in a position where he’s seen as a denier because he is not.”

Gorman: “It might be useful for me to say something and I completely understand where Michael’s anger and upset and I think it’s quite righteous where it’s coming from. But I do just want to say David [Quinn] and I were talking earlier on about the first time we were in a  television studio and on that occasion David was advocating for the church to sell off every asset the church possessed until it properly compensated and dealt with these issues. So…”

David Quinn: “Thank you.”

Gorman: “So, to be fair, David’s been clear. David and I don’t agree on a very significant number of things but, to be fair, he’s also looked for, he’s generally looked for accountability on these issues.”

Byrne: “And I’m glad you made that point. We did ask out Claire Byrne Live/Amarach research panel: should the Government seize church land and property to compensate victims of clerical or institutional abuse – 69% said yes and 17% said no, 14% don’t know. Which is interesting. Because only in the last couple of hours, Minister Leo Varadkar says that property cannot be seized and that, if we ran a referendum on it, that that referendum would be lost. I know that Simon Harris suggested that, over the weekend, that perhaps we could do that. I don’t know, David, if you have a view of that.”

Quinn: “I mean it’s extremely likely it would be lost because you, you’d have to change the constitution in such a way that you make it easy for the State to seize property and, you know, it wouldn’t just be the church that would be affected. Basically, you’d give the State incredibly sweeping powers to seize property. Obviously, in terms of the compensation scheme,  the 18 orders around the institutions must contribute their fair share and so the Comptroller and Auditor General released a report and so, if they’re not paying their fair share. Mind you, it also showed, of the 18 orders, most have paid what they said they’d pay and it’s important to put that on the record. The two, which are the biggest ones, which are the Christian Brothers the Mercy sisters, who ran most of the country’s institutions, they have yet to meet their obligations. I hope that happens in time. It ought to happen in time.”

Later

Donald Clarke: “…People who do not believe in the Catholic doctrine, do not believe in all the things that are being said, should not take part in its rituals. These seems a very, very modest proposal to me…”

Previously: Did Your Nan Leave Money To The Nuns?

“These Are Just Tactics”

Watch back in full here

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Breda O’Brien, of the Iona Institute, and Colm O’Gorman, of Amnesty Ireland, appeared on last night’s Late Debate on RTE Radio One.

The programme hosted by Audrey Carville began with a discussion about the recent Saturday Night Show/Miss Panti brouhaha…

Audrey Carville: “Before we get into the substantive discussion tonight, I want to mention the fact that, over the past number of days, RTÉ issued an apology and made a financial settlement to you, Breda, and to a number of others, including the Iona Institute and this followed allegations made on the Saturday Night Show, on television two weeks ago, during an interview with Rory O’Neill, who’s better known as drag queen, Panti Bliss. Now RTÉ have not issued a statement to us about this matter for our programme tonight. But Breda, as far as you’re concerned, has a line now been drawn under this?”

Breda O’Brien: “Yes, I think it’s really important that we have a rational and a calm debate and that people don’t reduce it to hurling insults at people to close down debate. I think RTÉ let its standards slip in that regard but they were big enough to come forward and to apologise and I’m certainly very pleased with that, very pleased to accept the apology and move forward..”

Carville: “Colm, O’Gorman, as an openly gay man, what do you make of all of this?”

Colm O’Gorman: “Well to be honest, I’m, I’m, well, to put it simply, I’m rather stunned by where all of this has gotten to and I don’t understand how we’re ever going to have a reasoned, or reasonable debate, if we can’t challenge each other’s viewpoints and even question what those viewpoints might be based upon. As it happens, I didn’t see the programme but when I saw it being reported, and some of the comments, that were being attributed to Rory, in the programme, I was lucky enough to grab before it was, on foot of legal action by Breda and others, removed and censored from the public airwaves. So I went into it and I listened to it and I have to say, I thought it was one of the most considered, inclusive, insightful explorations of how we are all capable of holding views that are discriminatory and that can cause us to make statements that are hurtful, that are damaging, that are destructive of other people. And what I heard Rory say is that we’re all capable of holding homophobic or racist, or xenophobic views and that we occasionally need to check ourselves, now I think that’s a really important discussion that we need to have. You know, to be honest, I don’t understand why anyone feels enormously insulted by being accused of being homophobic. I mean I’m a gay man and I’ve certainly been guilty of holding homophobic views – both views that I held about myself but also views I held about other sections of the LGBT community and other people who live lives in ways I perhaps didn’t understand.”

Carville: “You’re saying we’re all capable of being bias?”

O’Gorman: “We’re all capable of bias. We’re all capable of holding views that are based on discriminatory views, or internalised bigotry that we’ve taken on in other ways and I simply do not understand how challenging people, to examine the basis upon which they put forward certain arguments is defamatory and, you know, equally, quite frankly, I don’t think..People have a right, I think, to express views that other people might be offended by. Nobody has a right not to be offended. And I will defend Breda’s right and anybody else’s right to say things that I find offensive but I think I also have a right to name them as offensive and to seek to have a clear, rational, reasonable discussion about that.”

Carville: “Do you want to come back on that, Breda?”

O’Brien: “If it had been a case that it was talking about, in general, about all of us examining our consciences, I don’t think that I would have been, and other people would have been, in discussions with RTÉ. What it was about was naming a specific individual who was not there to defend herself and another individual who was not there to defend himself. It was claiming bad faith on their part, that they were, that my position, which is that a child, where possible, should be reared by their own mother and father, is now deemed homophobic commentary. RTÉ obviously felt that they had something to apologise for and the reason that they did so is because the legal definition of homophobia is that you have a fear and loathing, and suspicion of people who are gay, which is an appalling thing to throw at somebody. And I…it was then compounded later on by people in the Irish media, in their columns, saying that people who are against marriage equality, if you want to use that term, that people who are against that, are people who are responsible for gay people being beaten, murdered, fired from their jobs and that there should be a defamation watchdog set up so that people couldn’t express these views. Now this is very far from a rational and calm debate. This is actually going way into the territory of saying that we will declare your views out of order before you even begin. And I don’t think the Irish people want that. Like, during referendums regarding abortion, people were immoderate on my side of the fence and I always called them out when they were, when they used appalling expressions. I think we have a right in this debate to have the same level of respect, mutual respect and that you don’t label people and that you don’t dismiss their good faith. And, really, I think, I came here tonight to talk about Catholic education, I think it would be really good if we got onto that debate.”

O’Gorman: “Well..”

Carville: “Just briefly, Colm..”

O’Gorman: “Yeah, absolutely. I do think this has been a very, very damaging incident. and I really do think RTE needs to explain the basis upon which they felt entitled or required to pay damages from taxpayers’ funds on the basis of this. If this was indeed defamatory then indeed the rationale or the basis, upon which RTE believes this was defamatory, needs to be explained.”

Meanwhile:

Listen in full here.

Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland, YouTube


From the Sydney Morning Herald:

The Vatican’s most senior representative in Australia failed to co-operate with a government inquiry into child sexual abuse in Ireland and once invoked diplomatic immunity in a civil suit in which a victim was suing the church.

Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto (top) assumed the job of apostolic nuncio in 2008, a role equivalent to the Vatican’s ambassador.

He had served in the same role in Ireland but left before the government released an inquiry into sexual abuse in the Dublin archdiocese, the 2009 Murphy Report. The report criticised Archbishop Lazzarotto for not responding to a 2007 request to provide the inquiry with evidence of abuse.

Colm O’Gorman (above), a former Irish senator and now the executive director of Amnesty International in Ireland, told the Herald Archbishop Lazzarotto invoked diplomatic immunity, which caused him to drop a lawsuit against the Vatican.

Mr O’Gorman launched the suit against his local diocese and the Vatican’s representatives in Ireland, seeking compensation for being repeatedly raped as a teenager by Father Sean Fortune, Ireland’s most notorious paedophile priest.

”I was told in no uncertain terms that having secured diplomatic immunity, the nuncio would assert it in court,” Mr O’Gorman said. ”His lawyers told me that if I pursued the case, they would use that immunity to have it thrown out and then seek full legal costs from me.”

Archbishop Used Immunity In Civil Suit (Sydney Morning Herald)

Thanks Mark Geary

(Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland)

Context.

Thanks Lars Biscuit