The US Billionaire Whose Massive Funding Grew Pro-immigration NGOs in Ireland
By DR MATT TREACY
The extent to which advocacy NGOs have been the driving force behind much of what is described as “progressive” social change in Ireland is clear.
The NGOs themselves are not shy about trumpeting this when it suits them, but the media has been slow to point to the connection between the massive, under the radar, funding for said NGOs and the astonishing transformation of the state’s attitude towards issues such as immigration, gay marriage, abortion, and transgenderism.
People are increasingly aware, and Gript has reported on this previously, of the extent to which the Non-Governmental organisations (NGOs) have become a significant economic sector, encompassing more than 30,000 different entities that are generally registered as charities and which now employ over 160,000 people and account for around €6 billion in public spending.
The advocacy NGOs themselves would have you believe that they merely reflect changing public opinions and are an organic growth resulting from that.
The truth is somewhat different. What can be stated with certainty is that the sector of the NGO economy which has been responsible for driving much of the radical change here was only possible with the input of massive amounts of money from abroad.
The role of Atlantic Philanthropies – the funding vehicle for US billionaire, Chuck Feeney – in several key referendums, and in building a mass network of NGOs, cannot be overstated.
Money talks, and this was a lot of money. The granting of monies from other billionaire foundations also played a part.
Niamh Úi Bhriain has previously looked at the massive sums that were pumped into funding the pro-abortion side in the Repeal referendum. It was estimated that somewhere in the region of €18 million in corporate donations could be linked to groups that played a key role in that campaign.
Chuck Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies donated millions directly to organisers who pushed for repeal long before the referendum, such as the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and Amnesty Ireland which played a key role on the Yes side. Similarly, Atlantic boasted after the same-sex marriage referendum that they had “invested more than €63 million to advance human rights in Ireland, including those of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT)” and that its support had helped expand the organisations that brought about same-sex marriage.
It is my contention, however, that Atlantic was in large part responsible for creating the left-liberal NGO sector here. That can be seen from their own accounts.
Chuck Feeney is an Irish American billionaire who has to date donated over €8 billion in grants to various educational and other entities. He was also reported by Irish America in 2003 to have personally donated more than $250,000 to Sinn Féin, and by the Irish Times in 2015 to have been linked to $780,000 given to the US based Friends of Sinn Féin. Feeney said that his money was intended to help to place the Shinners “on a respectable platform.”
How that and other monies shaped the transformation of Sinn Féin is a tale for another day.
A not insubstantial part of Atlantic funds has been channelled to Irish entities with the main beneficiaries being foundations connected to the universities. However, quite a sizeable proportion of that has also been linked to the fostering of what was then a much more modest NGO sector, especially among what might be described as the left liberal quadrant.
Atlantic Philanthropies have a dedicated stream of funding for what is termed Effective Nonprofits and Philanthropy. They describe this as assisting to “build a more effective nonprofit and philanthropic sector.”
It could be argued in the context of certain parts of the NGO sector in Ireland that “create” might be a more accurate description than “build” of what Atlantic has accomplished here.
Let the figures and the paper trail speak for themselves.
Atlantic Philanthropies have to date donated $711,403,338 to developing the Irish NGO sector. That is 700 Million dollars, a phenomenal sum in dollars or in euros.
$89 MILLION FOR IMMIGRATION AND MIGRATION
Over the years, a staggering 89 MILLION dollars – $88,981,799 – was granted under the rubric of ‘Immigration and Migration’ to Irish NGOs.
The blurb on the Atlantic site describes this as providing support for those “advocating for policy reform.” The almost $89 million includes grants to four groups formally based in the north, but all of which have had their say on issues affecting the entire island.
Among them is the South Tyrone Empowerment Programme, one of whose founders was Bernadette McAliskey (below left) who spoke at the NGO rally in February of this year, organised after communities like East Wall and Ballymun held protests against what they saw as the imposition of migrant centres in their neighbourhoods without consultation.
McAliskey demanded of people – presumably ones who were not there – “which side are you on?” and whether they might be “on the road to fascism?”
One of the textbook definitions of fascism by old timey lefties was that fascist organisations were overwhelmingly funded by, and run in the interests of, wealthy business people.
McAliskey’s group has been given $6,453,769 by a billionaire, Chuck Feeney. That’s $6.4 MILLION to “empower” migrants living in South Tyrone. The people of Ballybrack with their handmade signs getting arrested by Gardaí for protesting needed no such empowering, one supposes.
Her group along with other wealthy NGO left liberal entities is clearly dependent for their existence and survival on the Woke capitalist foundations and on the Irish and British states. These are surely all the things a younger Bernadette would have considered to be the mark of Cain had the SDLP for example been the recipients of such patrician generosity.
THE CITIZENSHIP REFERENDUM
In common with the huge injection of cash that funded the abortion side in the referendum, the Atlantic immigration grants were strongly connected to another referendum; that held in 2004 on citizenship.
A date was set in April 2004 and the proposal to restrict citizenship was overwhelmingly passed in June 2004 with more than 79% approval.
Such a referendum had become ever more likely over the previous two years as the Government became concerned over the abuse of the existing provision to claim citizenship based on the birth of a child within the state. They were also anticipating a judgement of the European Court of Justice which, in October 2004, conferred EU citizenship rights on the parents of children of non-EU citizens born within an EU state.
Prior to 2002, little of the Atlantic funds had been directed towards the migrancy advocacy NGOs here. Between 1987 and 2001 Atlantic had donated $1,008,688 to different groups in Ireland under the Immigration and Migration heading.
But that funding more than tripled to $3,258,302 in the years between 2002 and 2004 when the issue of what were widely considered to be dubious claims to asylum and citizenship was to the forefront of public debate.
The vast bulk of the Atlantic money in that period – and as with the abortion campaign it was not the only external funding for the groups which opposed the referendum proposal – went to those campaigning for a No vote. This represented what many states might consider to be an egregious external interference in the domestic affairs of its citizens.
Not only did parts of the NGO sector, closely aligned with the left and even far left in some cases, gain financially from the funding that came on stream in the period leading to the referendum but the Atlantic stream increased greatly.
A HUGE JUMP IN FUNDING
Since 2004, another $84.7 million has flowed into the bank accounts of NGOs involved in the migrant sector in Ireland – with many of those NGOs seeking to overturn the decision of the Irish electorate in the referendum.
The impact which that money has had is evident in the subsequent history of the leading migrancy organisations. The amount of funding involved is staggering.
AkiDwa, which represents African women who have come through the asylum system. traces its origins to 1999 but states that it was only registered as a charity in 2007.
In that year it received $105,576 from Atlantic and a further $284,520 the following year. To date, AkiDwa has received $918,368 from Atlantic and now employs 5 full time staff and had an income of €255,429 in 2021.
The vast bulk of its income now comes from the taxpayer although it says that it also last year received €50,000 from “philanthropic organisations.”
This, it should be noted, is a common pattern. These NGOs, unable to strike a chord with the public, then benefit from Feeney’s largesse to become a major player, and then go on tap the taxpayer for serious funds. It’s a winning ploy if you have a US billionaire backer and a sympathetic ear in the political establishment.
Integrating Ireland no longer has corporeal form but existed long enough to be given $1,813,309 by Atlantic between 2006 and 2009. It was also funded by the European Refugee Fund so it hardly ran out of cash. In 2007 it published a paper on ‘The integration experiences of African families’ by Piarais Mac Éinrí and Liam Coakley but that work surely didn’t use up that much of the budget. .
Integrating Ireland was for a time part of a new entity known as the Integration Centre, which was formed in 2009 as a result of the amalgamation of Integrating Ireland and the Refugee Information Services which was itself awarded $1,939,038 from Atlantic funds.
Had you blinked, you might have missed the subsequent absorption in 2014 of the Integration Centre into the Immigrant Council of Ireland which has received the truly princely sum of $8,965,970 from Feeney’s foundation over the years. These migrant chappies do not let the grass grow under their feet. No sirree Bob.
Happily the Immigrant Council of Ireland is still going strong and now employs 15 people who account for 75% of their expenditure. In 2021, half of its income came directly from the public purse, and 15% from philanthropists.
Other major hitters in the migrancy and asylum sector who made their bones with the assistance of Atlantic and other philanthropists include Doras Luimní who have been granted $2,141,846 to date; NASC who weigh in with $1,948,996, and the Migrants Right Centre which was founded in 2001 and which rapidly took off to where it is today with the assistance of $2,940,255 from Atlantic.
MRC now trades as the Migrant Information Centre and employs 13 people on an income of more than €1 million per annum. In 2021, €453,889 of that came from the Woke foundations, and €358.293 from your good selves through the generosity of the state and local authorities.
The Irish Refugee Council has received overall funding of $7,045,792 from Atlantic over the years. It was founded in 1992, but has greatly expanded over the last 30 years and now has an annual income of more than €1.2 million, and employs 25 full and part time staff who account for almost all of their spending.
Total staff and administration costs, described as “charitable activities and other expenses,” amounted to well over 90% of their income for 2021. Presumably the Irish state is happy to pick up this tab on behalf of the taxpayer. You were never asked so you don’t count. We don’t know how they were fixed before the golden goose laid, but the Refugee Council is now pulling in almost twice what it did in 2014 and its staff numbers have increased three times.
A more subtle direction of Feeney’s money towards influencing Irish state policy and the public discourse on immigration comes from the financial support for entities which on the face of it have nothing to do with migration and asylum, and which is certainly not supposed to be even a significant part of their operations.
Among such beneficiaries have been the Children’s Rights Alliance which was part of the Coalition against the Deportation of Irish Children founded in 2003, as well as the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) which was given $1,646,581 in 2006 for hosting a Forum for Migration and Communications Strategies designed “to contribute to a climate where positive immigration reform can occur by enhancing the communication capacity of migrant organisations.”
The NGO world is replete with such symbiotic cross channeling of funding.
FUNDING GLOBAL GROUPS TARGETING IRELAND
Several groups which are not even based in Ireland have wet their beaks in the Atlantic immigration trough. One such is the Migrant Policy Group which is based in Brussels but which has received $4,206,445 from Atlantic where its “global impact” was in the Republic of Ireland. It was one of the founding members of the European Network Against Racism, which operates as INAR here. It highlights its links to the European Commission and to other left liberal foundations including Open Society.
Similarly, the Oxford University Centre on Migration (COMPAS) was bunged $465,848 in 2004 and 2005. The RAND Europe Community Interest Group trousered $352,931 in 2012 for evaluating how refugees might “access justice” here. It too is registered and based in the UK, happily in the other university city of Cambridge. From spreading the Tudor Protestant Reformation and Plantation diversity through “dungeon, fire and sword” to helping us become even more like their modern selves, the British academy has never left us down. Especially when there is a few bob in it.
The Migration Policy Institute is a Washington based liberal Democrat super NGO spawned by the Carnegie Endowment but it was not too proud to turn up its nose at a mere $60,000 from Chuck in 2005 as part of an immigration connected NGO exchange. The influence of US Democratic liberalism has clearly grown over the past 20 years, and it is something that is directly connected to the funding and organisations we shall be looking at in another piece.
The European Council on Refugees and Exiles has drawn down $4,368,145 for various schemes created to have a “global impact” on the Irish state. Curiously, the ECRE whose headquarters are in Brussels lists the Irish Refugee Council as its associate member here.
CREATING A MIGRANCY NGO SECTOR
The main takeaway from this is that a huge and extremely influential sector of the Irish NGO sector would hardly exist and certainly nowhere on the scale that it does were it not for the sums provided by Atlantic and other foundations created by wealthy foreigners.
That creation was with the intent to shape the social and economic and cultural bases of what are supposed to be sovereign states.
That is particularly significant and makes such a massive impact in a small country like Ireland where Feeney alone could have given each and every one of us €200 to have a few pints. The ideologically motivated funding is on that vast scale and it has been decisive in shifting opinion in support of, and materially assisting in the victory of, the campaigns to introduce same sex marriage and abortion.
A huge part of that money has and is now being used to bend Irish state policy on immigration in the way desired by vastly wealthy individuals and companies who have made fortunes from the “free movement of capital and labour” that they are now peddling as some sort of leftie ideal. It’s telling which persons and organisations on the left are happy to go along with this. .
What is even worse is that the Irish state – without ever having asked most of its citizens, who last spoke on this issue overwhelmingly in June 2004 – has more than match funded the migration and asylum advocacy groups which are expending massive resources in order to reverse that decision or to render it irrelevant.
Nor is the success of the migrancy NGOs unique.
There are other heavy hitters among the left liberal advocacy groups whose prosperity and even existence would likewise have been impossible without the aid of Atlantic and the other foundations.
We shall be looking at both of these factors next.