The refusal of the leading campaign groups on the YES side to answer very reasonable questions about their funding posed by RTE’s “Prime Time” programme is very concerning, and makes it appear as if they are treating voters with contempt, Save the 8th has said.
Last night’s programme revealed that neither the Abortion Rights Campaign nor the Coalition to Repeal the 8th amendment had answered a survey issued to campaign groups by the flagship RTE current affairs programme. In contrast, all of the main groups campaigning for a NO vote had answered in full.
The survey requested, amongst other things, information about foreign funding. Several YES groups have already had to return illegal foreign donations, and Amnesty Ireland refuses to comply with an order from SIPO to return an illegal donation of almost €150,000. The survey also asked questions about State funding, and Save the 8th Communications Director John McGuirk said this was a particular concern around repeal groups:
“Last year, we know that the National Women’s Council of Ireland conducted research ahead of the referendum. Who paid for that, the taxpayer? We know that almost half the member organisations of the coalition to repeal are in regular receipt of taxpayer funding – is any of that being spent on the referendum, for example to pay staff?
We know that the Abortion Rights Campaign has already had to refund, on SIPO’s instructions, a large illegal donation – are they planning on taking more?
This was not a hard survey to complete. The questions were reasonable, and contained information the voters have a right to know.
By refusing to answer straightforward questions, Repeal groups are treating voters with contempt. The conclusion to last night’s report said that repeal groups would “be outspent” – but with respect to the programme makers, this simply cannot be said with any certainty, because they have consistently refused to answer basic questions about where the money is coming from.
No organisation on the “NO” side would be allowed to get away with this. The voters have a right to know who is paying for the posters on the lamp-posts. And given that several major repeal organisations have been in breach of the law already, giving repeal groups the benefit of the doubt on this issue is in no way justified. They must come clean, and they must do it now”.