We are a coalition of civil society organisations working to influence public policy for the benefit of people living in Ireland. We are demanding reform of the Electoral Act because it threatens freedom of association in Ireland. The Electoral Act prohibits any international funding for advocacy work, even outside of election periods.
Here is our statement on the need for reform of the Act.
Restrictions on civil society
Our coalition is deeply worried about provisions inserted in 2001 into section 22 of the Electoral Act 1997, as amended, which appear to prohibit any person or organisation based in Ireland from accepting sizeable or any international donations to assist them in influencing public policy. In addition, we are concerned by the impact of the onerous tracking and reporting requirements that attach to small domestic donations. According to the wording of Electoral Act, these donation restrictions can apply to civil society advocacy work all of the time, and not just when advocating an election or referendum result.
Over 60 organisations have joined our campaign for reform of the Electoral Act.
Democratic values compromised
We believe that section 22 of the Electoral Act violates the Irish Constitution, European law and international human rights law. Our analysis of how the Electoral Act is currently out of step with human rights standards and Ireland’s foreign policy is contained here. We are gravely concerned that Ireland’s democratic values are compromised by the current wording of the Electoral Act.
The Wheel is Ireland’s national association of community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises. Every day, members of the Wheel are not only active in providing on-the-ground services but are also busy advocating for better living conditions and supports for the communities they represent. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) exists to raise awareness in public of human rights issues, while Amnesty International Ireland researches and campaigns with the aim of preventing and ending grave human rights abuses. Transparency International Ireland is the Irish chapter of the worldwide movement against corruption. Front Line Defenders is an international human rights organisation based in Dublin, which works to advance the protection of human rights defenders at risk in all regions of the world. Uplift is a people- powered campaigning tool which allows members of the public to join together online in order to create public pressure for change in laws or policies that cause them concern.