The Workers’ Party have accused the Charities’ Regulator of double standards for failing to tackle the Catholic Church’s campaigning on the upcoming referendum on the 8th amendment. The accusations come in the wake of a decision by the Charities’ Regulator that the Project Arts’ Centre must remove a ‘Repeal the 8th’ mural from its outside walls, or risk losing its charitable status.
Cllr. Éilis Ryan of the Workers’ Party in Dublin, said:
“The Charities Regulator made it absolutely clear to Project Arts Centre that campaigning in relation to the upcoming referendum would constitute a breach of its charitable status. If Project was to lose its charitable status, it would impact on its grants, its tax obligations and its donations.
“But in the scale of the referendum debate, Project Arts Centre is a relatively minor actor. The Catholic Church on the other hand, which also has charitable status, is a major player. It is an astounding double standard that the Charities Regulator have entirely ignored the Church’s extensive campaigning activity, and taken such a hard line stance on a minor issue such as a mural.”
Cllr. Ryan continued:
“Right beside my workplace, on Parnell Square, a church has a large pro-8th amendment banner hanging from its outer railings. It is entirely comparable to the Maser mural on Project Arts Centre, and yet has been ignored by the regulator.
“This is without even speaking about the decades of Church campaigning from the pulpit on divorce, contraception, abortion. Every week leaflets are distributed taking a side in the upcoming referendum.”
The Workers’ Party councillor concluded:
“This smacks of hypocrisy. The church – surely one of the largest organisations with charitable status in the country – has been allowed a dominating voice in political campaigning since the foundation of the state. Now, suddenly, a minor arts centre is the centre of controversy for doing just the same.
“I am calling on the charities regulator, SIPO and the referendum commission to make clear whether the Catholic Church has the right, as a charitable organisation, to continue its campaigning.”
For information contact Cllr. Éilis Ryan (086) 3108553