Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tax Breaks, Vaccine Denial and Irish Pro Lifers

It's a time of hardship for a lot of us. Tax is up, the carer's allowance has been decreased and most of us are making do with less. Still, it comes as small consolation to remember that as a nation we provide tax breaks for many worthy charities who do important, vital work. However, amongst the dedicated, effective and admirable groups there are a few interlopers perhaps undeserving of tax payers' assistance.

I've mentioned before that the Iona Institute is freed from the shackles of many tax obligations. You can see their company, Lolek Limited, is listed on the Revenue's list of authorised charities. (Compare the charity number there to that listed on Iona's website.) I pop back to this Revenue list from time to time when investigating various groups and have found many names gratifyingly absent. I should also add that I bear the Revenue no ill will in this matter; they merely enforce the rules and are not the body who decided the criteria for charitable status. (Late addendum: this means donors can either write off some of their tax bill against the donation, or get the Revenue to add to their donation, depending on their tax status.)

Recently a video made by the American group EWTN has been excitedly shared through Facebook and Twitter. (Bebo was not checked.) It was designed to solicit prayers and donations for Irish anti abortion groups. Perhaps surprisingly, it has been promoted most heavily by those of us on the pro choice side, largely due to one ridiculous hat:

Bernadette Smyth of Precious Life, wearing a ridiculous fur hat indoors.
While I too found the headwear hilarious, it was another image that raised my eyebrow:
Patrick McCrystal, rocking the sort of name you'd give to a Garda at 3am when caught urinating on an ATM.
The image shows Patrick McCrystal of Human Life International, Ireland. His organisation has earned the charity number 11138, sparing it from many of the tax burdens foisted on the Irish population. It is the Irish branch of (you guessed it) an American anti abortion group.

Spared of this obligation to contribute fully to public services in Ireland, how does HLI devote its protected resources?

The extra tax burden you shoulder allows them to scaremonger about vaccines, continuing the farcical lie that they cause autism. Image taken from their front page.

As a husband I find myself curious to read "The Three Marks of Manhood - How to be Priest, Prophet and King to your Family", a book my tax payments have effectively subsidised. Apparently it will tell me how I am "called to wield the three staffs of patriarchy in their families; the Sceptre of authority and self-discipline, the Crosier of spiritual stewardship and the Cross of redemptive suffering."

I've been married a year and three months - to date my staff wielding has not been cause for complaint. Still, perhaps I'm doing it wrong? While I dare not speak for Mrs Shorts I doubt very much a warm reception would be given to the idea of "the complementary role and call to women in their glorious femininity."

I'm unwilling to spend the additional 35 Euro to receive my copy; instead I suggest you glance at its Amazon reviews. A random sample: "Men become better leaders at home and at work; women become more fulfilled because they can focus on their family."

They oppose contraception as a marriage destroying inducer of breast cancer, cervical cancer and infertility. I trust debunking is unnecessary. In its stead they recommend couples employ the rhythm method - am I alone in being old enough to remember that?

Naturally, Dana has given her blessing to this group. We see here that she opened their headquarters in Knock. A Fr Thomas Euteneuer also earns a short mention in the article. Perhaps they did not have time to explain how this former president of Human Life International left in scandal amid a coverup of his sexual assault of a female parishoner while he pretended to perform an exorcism?

The tax you pay is slightly higher to cover the tax they do not. These funds saved allow them to fund the Ask Majella crisis planning agency, which enjoys showing pregnant women pictures of the Holy Virgin Mary mourning a foetus, saying abortion causes bowel and breast cancer, and threatening their clients with judgement beyond the grave among other loving, caring tactics.

They promote the damaging and hateful lie that homosexuality is something that can and should be cured.
"Those struggling with a homosexual tendency deserve the right to hear that their orientation can be successfully reversed with proper psychological assistance and spiritual help."
They also firmly affirm their faith by devoting themselves to a holy face.

For many of us it's pay day today or tomorrow. I encourage you to take out your payslips, view the deductions, and ask yourselves if you're comfortable with this group having charitable exemptions. And while you're at it, why not ask why every anti-abortion group in the country seems comfortable associating themselves with these cretins?

The video featured contributions from the Iona Institute, Youth Defence, and John Waters. Why did they choose to work with this offensive group?


Anonymous said...

"In its stead they recommend couples employ the rhythm method - am I alone in being old enough to remember that?"

You wish. I graduated from secondary school in 2009 and they were still teaching it as an alternative to condoms in our sex ed that year.

And while we're talking backward attitudes to sex in Ireland, a man of my parents' age told me last weekend that distributing condoms was a "political statement".

Stephanie said...

@bucklesman - Didn't you tell him the personal *is* political? ;)

@geooff - excellent piece.

Geoff said...

@BucklesMan - wow. You graduated ten years after me. I now feel mature.

@Stephanie - thanks!

Auntie Dote said...

Actually, I have used the "rhythm" method, or more accurately the temperature & mucous method of "getting to know your cycle" IN COMBINATION WITH condoms.

I found that, if you build in generous margins for condom days (where there is ANY risk of fertility) you CAN get off with a few non-condom days, should you wish.

But it does take a few months of paying extraordinary attention to your cycle AND good communication * trust between partners.

Unknown said...


You fail to demonstrate any link between the Iona Institute and Human Life International, except that they "may" agree on some policy issues. And, I forgot, both are registered charities. It would be preposterous to attempt to link Enda Kenny, Eamonn Gilmore or Micheal Martin with, say, a dissident republican terror group, solely on the basis that each of these responsible, democratic politicians would like to see a united Ireland, an aspiration that happens to be shared by CIRA or RIRA godfathers. Yet the logic of your post seems to suggest otherwise?

Geoff said...

Hi Tommy,
Thanks for commenting.
I feel it fair to say I've demonstrated that they're willing to work together on projects - I do have video footage after all!

Unknown said...

Hi Geoff,
Maybe I'm mistaken, but I don't think your post mentions any such links?

In any event, I think that you may be overstating the benefits of charitable tax exemption. It's good housekeeping for any formally-constituted voluntary, charitable or sporting group to claim charitable tax exemption, and it avoids the body having to file annual income tax returns, but unless the body is harvesting substantial profits from commercial activities, eg running a bar or shop, or otherwise selling merchandise, its of limited use.

In the case of the Iona Institute, as a limited company, they would at worst have a 12.5% Corporation Tax bill on any unspent surpluses, and unless they're accumulating massive profits, they would never be exposed to a significant Corporation Tax liability.

I'm sure you have accessed their company accounts on so you presumably are in a better position than me (at least until I become sufficiently motivated to log into my CRO account and spend €2.50 to download them) to assess the magnitude of the Corporation Tax liabilities that Iona are escaping via the exemption. I suspect they are negligible.

It may well be the case that the main benefit of Iona's tax exemption is that it facilitates the granting of tax relief to donors in respect of donations made. However it would be rather novel to seek to curb such reliefs on the basis of an ideological objection to the stated aims of any particular voluntary body or association.

And the enforcement of any such restriction might well have significant implications for the viability of a number of charities or benevolent associations who are actively engaged in policy campaigns or advocacy work.

I honestly think that would be a very poor outcome, although it would undeniably suit some very powerful interests in our society. If the facilitation of necessary support to the likes of the Rape Crisis Network, Barnardos or Amnesty International requires the State to facilitate parallel, if ultimately irrelevant, support to the odd flat-earth type ginger group, then I think it might just be a price worth paying.

Jill said...

Just wanted to clarify that Natural Family Planning (as it's called in the States) is not the same as the "rhythm" or "calendar" method. It's based on the science of a woman's cycle and as Auntie Dote mentions can be tracked by the woman by checking basal temperature and cervical mucous daily or simply using a fertility monitor every morning. There's a decent number of women in the States who have nothing to do with Catholicism but who prefer these methods because they don't like condoms/copper IUD and are also not interested in extra hormones in their bodies.

Anonymous said...

Charities won't have to pay the upcoming property tax either, from what I hear. Don't know if there's any other taxes or charges avoided.

I've heard natural family planning is fantastic for becoming pregnant too. Not a joke - you'll know when you're fertile, so make the opposite decisions. For contraception, I've heard that there is a danger point at the beginning of the fertile time, as sperm hang round for a while, so sex shortly before the temperature change could cause pregnancy.

Lisamaree said...

Would like to see a date of that claim about autism as Wakefield has not only been struck off but empiricle studies have completely disproven any link. Sadly the lie still spreads and the taxpayer funded HSE s doing a mop up campaign of MMR jabs in schools - because so many children & young adolescents missed it. In Australia they have outbreaks of Whooping cough because people aren't getting the d-tap which also protects against Diptheria, Polio (FFS) and tetanus for their teenagers, thanks to scaremongering. And there is a little boy in hospital with fully blown tetanus at the moment, in an induced coma to control his pain and support breathing. His mother "read about vaccines on the Internet and didn't think tetanus was that bad" - so no, I would not ET that one pass.
As for contraception? Why is vasectomy never mentioned? It takes 20 minutes under a local anesthetic and from then on, no oe has to worry about coils, condoms or hormones that make you bloated and emotional. Or measuring mucous membranes. Happy New Year xx

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