Political funding and the law

George Soros. Photograph: Olivier Hoslet/AFP/Getty Images

Sir, – I write in response to the excellent article by Deirdre Garvey "Political funding rules should not curb civil society bodies" (Opinion & Analysis, December 8th).

The Irish Government has played an important role internationally in pushing back against restrictions on civil society so it is deeply ironic that we are now seeing charities in Ireland being designated “third parties” with consequent bans on foreign funding in a manner that has echoes with the Russian government’s infamous “foreign agents” law. Independent civil society in Russia has been severely impacted since the introduction of such laws.

Ireland has led in the drafting and negotiation of resolutions on civil society space at the UN Human Rights Council in recent years that have specifically covered the right to access international funding.

Fortunately we have not yet seen anything on the scale of the restrictions imposed in Russia, Ethiopia and China, but the instruction to Amnesty International to return some funding from an international donor is a deeply worrying development and should prompt an urgent review of both the language in the Electoral Act and the modus of operations of the Standards in Public Office Commission. – Yours, etc,



Executive Director,

Front Line Defenders,

Grattan House,

Temple Road,


Co Dublin.

Sir, – Amnesty Ireland's attack on the independence of the Standards in Public Office Commission decision demanding that it repay its foreign donors demonstrates just how petty and self-serving that once great organisation has become ("Amnesty International ordered to return donation from billionaire George Soros", December 8th).

Its belief that it should only obey laws that reflect its own agenda has no place in a republic of equals. Intemperate language from its executive director that laws have been “weaponised” casts unfair aspersions on one organ of State that has behaved impeccably and fearlessly through recent public scandals. – Yours, etc,


National Chairman,

Renua Ireland,


Co Louth.