Civil Society Organisations urged to join the People's Voice Campaign
The Wheel is working in coalition with ICCL, Amnesty Ireland, Front Line Defenders, Transparency International and Uplift for Electoral Act reform.
The coalition launched the #PeoplesVoice campaign with its statement on the Electoral Act including our proposed text for its amendment, on 11 October. You can read it online.
The coalition will be bringing the campaign for reform to government next. There is an open letter to the Taoiseach which you and your organisation can sign here. We hope to present this letter to government officials at an expert seminar on 6 December.
We are also inviting organisations to join the 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 Thursday 6 December.
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 launch event, ICCL held last week, we heard from other civil society organisations who had similar frightening stories to tell. As well as the above, we heard from Amnesty International on the real and long story behind the case that hit the headlines during the abortion referendum. ICCL Itself spoke of difficulties it faced when individuals contacted their funders, spuriously claiming it was operating illegally under the Electoral Act. Many more organisations spoke, under the 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 targeted up to now, but who knows who it might be in the future?