The Coalition for Civil Society Freedom has been actively and loudly campaigning for Electoral Act reform. We will be bringing the People’s Voice campaign to government next. There is an open letter to the Taoiseach which you, as an individual or organisation can sign here. We hope to present this letter to government officials at an expert seminar on 28 November.
We are also inviting organisations to join the People’s Voice campaign platform. The more of us who call for Electoral Act reform, the more likely we are to be heard. You can sign up to the platform here. Please do so before Friday 23 November.
Here are just some of the reasons why we are campaigning:
Education Equality were forced to return €5,500 seed funding they received from the Humanist Association. SIPOC threatened them with legal action under the Act, simply for engaging in their normal advocacy work.
EQUATE were put under so much pressure following a campaign of complaints against them to SIPOC (who also informed their funder) that it contributed to their decision to wind down.
At “The People’s Voice” event we held recently, we heard from other civil society organisations who had similar frightening stories to tell. We heard from Amnesty International on the real and long story behind the case that hit the headlines during the abortion referendum. We ourselves spoke of difficulties we faced when individuals contacted our funders, spuriously claiming we were operating illegally under the Electoral Act. Many more organisations spoke, under condition of anonymity, about their experiences of being threatened with legal action or of reconsidering donations and advocacy work because of the law.
The bottom line is: the Electoral Act prohibits civil society from fundraising for our everyday advocacy work. The way in which it is applied is haphazard, but it can be abused by individuals who take issue with some of the more radical work we are engaged in. Organisations working on rights have been particularly targetted up to now, but who knows who it might be in the future?
Sign up here to support the People’s Voice campaign here: https://iccl.wufoo.com/forms/z1wbyxnp0h1xzn4/