Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Trying to join the dots - IIEA, CIPA, Ireland for Europe and Generation Yes

Financial ties between unaccountable groups and Government bodies are of concern to me.

Not only have we had - as I wrote about last time - the supression of dissent by the BCI, we also have a tax free and unaccountable charity in reciept of hundreds of thousands of tax euros and the rapid promotion of an 'independent' youth group who support the drive to force through a yes vote.

According to the Phoenix magazine the power behind the Yes to Lisbon Mark II campaign is a former (appointed) MEP Brendan Halligan (73)
As General Secretary of the Labor Party in Ireland he bitterly opposed EEC membership in 1972.

He has since metamorphosed into the Chairman of the Institute for International and European Affairs (IIEA), which receives hudreds of thousands of Euro from government departments and state funded bodies yearly.
Among the Members of the Comite d'Honneur of the IIEA are Bertie Ahern, Charlie McCreevy, Albert Reynolds, Pat Cox, Ray Mac Sharry and the bauld Pádraig Flynn

Following the failure of the Irish Alliance for Europe(the one that came up with the wrong result) it has been apparently decided that the next vote on the same issue will keep politicians in the background and that personalities from civic life — youth, women etc — would front the campaign.

There were efforts to find interesting celebrities like soccer players and U2’s manager, but it was soon realized by the Yes campaign that many such people were usually unable to answer half-serious questions about the EU or the complexities of the Lisbon Treaty.

Enter Andrew Byrne, former president of Trinity students’ union, and one of Halligan’s employees at his consultancy CIPA, who helped to set up Generation Yes.

A former member of the European Youth Parliament (a glorified youth club set up for secondary school students) he contnued to volunteer for the EYP and was responsible for bringing the group’s national conference to Dublin in 2007. Meanwhile, he attended plenty of talks and meetings of the IIEA.

Andrew Byrne had joined the Green Party and chaired the Trinity branch of the Young Greens during the senior party’s switch from an anti to pro-EU stance.
Andrew got himself onto the senior party’s national executive, where he now rubs shoulders with the now pro-European Green leadership.
This was a reversal in Green policy as traditionaly they had been against the threat to nutrality, workers rights and believed in more, not less, democratic oversight and accountability.

In autumn 2008 Andrew, Bart Storan (his students union election campaign director) and Claire Tighe (his deputy president) – started work on Generation Yes.
To raise funds for Generation Yes they fired out a hundred or so letters to like-minded souls outlining what they intended to do, some of which must have included Brendan Halligan, Pat Cox, Brigid Laffan and a clutch of other faces from Halligan’s IIEA.

Brendan Halligan – who knew Andy Byrne well from his attendance at various IIEA talks and meetings – needed someone to work on a few Euro-related projects.
It’s hardly surprising that by November 2008, around the same time as he was working on Generation Yes, Andrew Byrne found himself in Brendan Halligan’s employ at CIPA(Halligan’s lobbying company, which worked on behalf of the tobacco industry)

Interestingly, in echoes of the controversy over whether Declan Ganley’s staffers were employed by Libertas or Rivada – Andrew Byrne claims he was not employed by CIPA but by Halligan personally.
Obviously the multi-national tobacco corporations are not the people our clean, green and keen Mr.Byrne wants to be associated with.

While the media were rigorous in their pursuit of Libertas’s funding, they have shown no appetite for applying similar rigor to Brendan Halligan’s pro-EU bodies, particularly in relation to their murky funding arrangements (largely public funds coming from government departments).

Indeed, The Irish Times, Independent News and Media, and RTE have all been listed in the past as donors and corporate members of Halligan’s IIEA.

The Generation Yes team - who seem to want to appear completely disconnected from the politicians - along with other Yes campaigners have met the minister for Europe Dick Roche and officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) at Iveagh House to plan their campaign.
This is not independent action, this is co-ordinated support.

In December 2008, Andy attended his first meeting of a group that included Halligan, Pat Cox and UCD professor Brigid Laffan, all were keen to devise a campaign strategy that worked and Andy was involved in the creation of Ireland for Europe.

When Andrew Byrne had to choose between Generation Yes and Ireland for Europe Pat Cox suggested he go forward for the position of chief of operations and he cruised in, leaving Generation Yes to Bart and Claire and others.

Not a bad move for Andrew Byrne, who has very quickly ascended to the vanguard of the Euro movement and the Green Party.

Ireland for Europe is a much grander affair than Generation Yes, and a much bigger challenge for Andrew.
Large ads in the Sunday and daily newspapers suggest that it’s very well funded, too.
He is involved in a far more impressive organization now, so he doesn’t have to worry unduly about Generation Yes, who still maintain their Leeson Street Office – donated by a business man (?) and their use of IBEC for printing, meetings etc.

Andy Byrne of Generation Yes may find he has less work to do than he anticipated, but he won’t be too bothered; he’s already made his bones with the Greens and the Euro Mafia.

When The Phoenix asked Ireland for Europe about their funding situation, they trotted out the same old line about donations being received “in accordance with the Electoral Acts”, “treated with absolute confidentiality”, compliance with the Standards in Public Office regulations, etc, etc.

It’s a line Andrew Byrne has learned as well and he was less than forthcoming on the subject of who provided the Generation Yes offices on 39 Lower Leeson Street – right to privacy of donors, you understand.

Incidentally a quick whois search on Aug 11 2009 reveals that generationyes.ie is owned by Generation Yes Ltd, contact person Andrew Byrne

Now - back to the funding of the IIEA, a think tank and a registered charity who pay no tax.
They used to publish detailed accounts but ceased doing so after the Phoenix published a series of articles about the extent to which the Institute was funded by the public.

In April of 2008, due to the McKenna judgment the IIEA was reported as saying it could not take sides in the Lisbon referendum as it is a registered public charity (it pays no taxes) and is in receipt of hundreds of thousands of tax-payers money.

In times when there are meant to be public service cutbacks like in hospitals, when we are borrowing 50M per day according to Morning Ireland, one has to take a closer look at the financial set-up at IIEA.

Repeated demands for scrutiny of the institute’s finances are normally met with a blank silence.
Recently TD Finian McGrath demanded answers in a series of parliamentary questions to all fifteen government departments that have been funding the institute for nearly 20 years.

Mr. Halligan’s financial MO is to secure annual membership subscriptions from nearly all government departments and state agencies.

In total, the IIEA received over €820,000 in 2006 with much of this coming from public funds.

In the early 90's, government departments to become corporate members of the IIEA, in most cases donating an annual sum of £1,000.

Inflation would account only partially for the 500% circa increase in this stipend by 2008.
According to twelve of the departments that responded to McGrath, each now donates an annual sum of €6.000 to the IIEA.

In January 2008 the Dept. of Arts, Sport and Tourism, under Seamus Brennan, decided not to renew membership “as part of an effort to reduce the department’s administrative costs”.

Halligan, well known to the Department of Foreign Affairs (They’ve funded his IIEA for over 15 years) was more than compensated for this decision by donating €32,626 (over five times the corporate membership) to the institute in 2007.
This was made up of payment for the Communicating Europe Initiative and €23,626 for consolidated versions of the Lisbon Treaty.

Then there are the plethora of tax funded government entities such as the Higher Education Authority, the local Government Management Services Board, the NESC and dozens of other taxpayer-funded organisations.

Just why the DPP, the Attorney General and the Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas should be funding Halligan’s super quango is beyond me.
And subscribers to the VHI may be equally curious to know why it is listed as an ongoing contributor to the institute.


The IIEA, a self-governing body, tax exempt and unaccountable registered charity, intended to be independent of political, economic and social interests is certainly not living up to its charter.
According to its website, the Institute represents no sectoral viewpoint and expresses no corporate views of its own. Views expressed in the Institute's publications and at its conferences, seminars and briefings are those of the authors and speakers

Despite this, and the McKenna ruling, since the Lisbon defeat, the IIEA has been busy preparing arguments in favour of

a) a second referendum and
b) the need for a Yes vote this time round.

In a lengthy tome sent to all Oireachtas members and hundreds of other decision makers (157 pages costing €20 a copy, courtesy of the taxpayer) the charitable institute warns of catastrophe should Ireland fail to ratify the Lisbon Treaty next time round.

The IIEA, despite its official, and legal, political neutrality is unashamedly pro-Lisbon and has produced literature and propaganda in favor of Lisbon and employed people to promote the Yes agenda at great cost to the tax payer.

IIEA literature has said if government did not decide to seek ratification, the document argues, “the damage would be irreparable” for Europe itself, while the implications for Ireland “range from the disastrous to the catastrophic”.

Halligan went so far in his scare tacticw as to speculate in a letter to the Irish Times on July 10 2009 that a No vote would result in our being excluded from the EU -which is something that cannot happen.

Using the usual scare tactics the IIEA has said the electorate votes No a second time, then Ireland might have to leave the EU; Irish farmers would lose out on CAP funding; we would lose all regional and any other EU funding; we might have to leave the euro currency and all foreign investment would be threatened.

All are untruths, if we say No it should force our elected representitives
But as Eddie Vedder says, drilling for fear makes the job simple.

These scare tactics propagated by the IEAA and associates, which we the people are paying for are simply untruths and lies.

We need to vote No to get a better and fairer deal for ourselves and our fellow European citizens.

Our elected representives should use the chance to pause and reflect and build the kind Europe that We the People really want – a democratic collective of nations for peace and prosperity who respect each other, not to repackage the same rejected and unwanted treaty that denies peoples democratic voice.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read - let others know about the blog, even if you dont agree with me I hope you at least consider the opinions and vote.

Citizen Simon out

Free Blog Counter