Anti-abortion group to appeal for Eighth Amendment donations

Life Institute will register as political group for upcoming referendum campaign

Life Institute: the anti-abortion organisation is one of the organisers of the Rally for Life. File photograph: Alan Betson

Life Institute: the anti-abortion organisation is one of the organisers of the Rally for Life. File photograph: Alan Betson

 

The Life Institute has said it will step up its campaign to retain the Eighth Amendment by seeking financial donations.

The anti-abortion organisation is not currently registered as a third party with the Standards in Public Office Commission, which regulates organisations that are raising funds for political lobbying. A spokeswoman for the institute said it is not registered “because we are an education-and-awareness organisation who work to ensure the human rights of both mother and child are upheld.

“For the upcoming referendum, the campaign to retain the Eighth will be registered with Sipo, and any political donations received will be included in the accounting,” she said. “Most organisations who raise money for education and awareness are not registered with Sipo.”

The Life Institute has a section on its website where people can make donations.

Under the Electoral Act 1997, a third party that receives a political donation of more than €126.97 must register with the commission and open a bank account. At the end of the year it must provide bank statements detailing all donations received and money paid out. In addition, third parties cannot accept a donation from an individual of more than €6,348.69, or a donation of any value from somebody outside the State who is not an Irish citizen.

In 2012 the Standards in Public Office Commission wrote to the Life Institute asking it to consider complying with the ethics regulations.

The institute is run by the veteran anti-abortion campaigner Niamh Uí Bhriain. Ms Uí Bhriain and her brother Donal Mac Mathúna set up Pro Life Institute Ltd in 2008 with an interest-free loan of €410,506.

Earlier this year the Abortion Rights Campaign returned a €23,000 grant it received from a US-based foundation after a warning from the commission.

Thousands of people attended a Rally for Life march in Dublin last week. The annual demonstration called for the protection of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits abortion.

The march was organised by prominent anti-abortion groups, including the Life Institute, Youth Defence, and the Northern Ireland group Precious Life.