Mar 292015

The Iona Institute is being remarkably coy about its funding, for some reason.

Who could have imagined such shyness from a political pressure group that salivates at the very thought of being mentioned in the media?  And yet, this weekend, Iona’s charismatic founder David Quinn is still unavailable for comment on media reports that his PR operation has declined to register with the Standards in Public Office Commission as a Third Party in the forthcoming marriage equality referendum.

Following publication of Mark Tighe’s article in the Sunday Times, David Quinn remains unavailable for comment, and I’ll just invite you to think about that for a moment.  It’s like saying the Pope is unavailable for prayer or Silvio Berlusconi is unavailable for bunga bunga.

It’s like saying my dog is unavailable for cat-following or postman-biting.

Perhaps this is an extension of David’s behaviour on Twitter.  When faced with hard questions he tends to block people and label their questions Abuse, much as Breda and the other Ionanists do.   Has he now extended his practice to the entire world, blocking everyone who might possibly pose him tough conundrums?

Has David got his hands over his eyes and is he chanting You can’t see me?

The Sunday Times article explained that the Iona Institute has declined to register with SIPO and I’m going to concede right now that they don’t have to, even though most of the campaigns on the YES side have done so, including Amnesty International.

Iona declines to register with SIPO

Be that as it may.  David Quinn and his prayer group have long lurked in the crepuscular nooks of rational debate where up means down and here means there.  Only last week, on the Sean Moncrieff Show, Quinn made the ludicrous assertion that the Iona Prayer Group weren’t campaigning at all, despite their never-ending appearances on TV and radio speaking against a Yes vote.  It was an astonishing example of looking-glass logic where words mean whatever you want them to mean, but it wasn’t an untypical example of Quinn’s style, because after all, even though his motives are old-fashioned fundamentalist, his tactics are straight out of the PR Cynic’s Handbook.


The fact is that he doesn’t have to be up-front.  He doesn’t have to register with SIPO and no doubt that’s the drum he’ll be banging when he emerges from his ecstasy.  However, I suspect he’ll neatly glide over a provision of the Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012, which states as follows, (with my added emphasis):-

Section 23A

(1) Without prejudice to subsection (2), none of the following persons, namely—

(a) a member of either House of the Oireachtas,

(b) a member of the European Parliament,

(c) a candidate at a Dáil, Seanad or European election,

(d) a political party,

(e) a third party, or

(f) an accounting unit,

shall, directly or through any intermediary, accept from a particular person in a particular year

(i) a donation the value of which exceeds, in case the first-mentioned person falls within paragraph (a), (b), or (c), €1,000,

(ii) a donation the value of which exceeds, in case the first-mentioned person falls within paragraph (d), (e), or (f), €2,500, or

(iii) a donation of cash of an amount which exceeds €200.


23AA.— (1) None of the following persons namely—

(a) a member of either House of the Oireachtas,

(b) a member of the European Parliament,

(c) a candidate at a Dáil, Seanad or European election,

(d) a political party,

(e) a third party, or

(f) an accounting unit,

shall, directly or through any intermediary, accept from a particular corporate donor in a particular year a donation the value of which exceeds €200 unless—

(i) the corporate donor is registered on the register of corporate donors, and

(ii) a statement is made on behalf of the corporate donor and furnished with the donation to the donee confirming that the making of the donation was approved by the corporate donor.

Are we clear on that?  No third party seeking to influence the outcome of a referendum, is permitted to accept a donation of more than €200 from a private individual or from a corporate body.  Furthermore, if a corporate body donates more than €200, it must be placed on an appropriate register.

Let me add something here.

The Iona Institute is registered with the Revenue Commissioners as a charity.

Here is an extract from another article on this site about the status of Lolek Ltd (otherwise known as the Iona Institute) as a charity for tax-relief purposes:

Under Irish law, an organisation can get tax exemption if it engages in one of the following:

  • Relief of poverty.
  • Advancement of education.
  • Advancement of religion
  • Other works of a charitable nature beneficial to the community.

If the organisation is a corporate body, as Lolek Ltd is, it must be bound by a memorandum  and articles of association. All of its money must go towards achieving the aims stated.

In Lolek’s case, the aims it stated in order to get tax-free status are as follows:

The advancement and promotion of the Christian religion, its social and moral values, and the doing of all such other things as are incidental or conducive to the attainment of that object.

If it spends money on anything else, it doesn’t qualify for tax exemption.


Now.  What David Quinn, Breda O’Brien, Ben Conroy and other Iona associates have been doing since the announcement of the Marriage Referendum is campaigning on a non-religious issue, namely civil marriage.

What’s more, they have been campaigning with the use of funds provided by the Irish taxpayer via their tax-exemption as a religious charity.  This is, in my opinion, an unconstitutional endowment of a religious grouping by the State.

Here is David Quinn, in his own words, confirming that his activities are not of a religious nature, while still availing of his Institute’s tax free status.

David Quinn letter confirming non-religious nature of Iona activities

Last week, as I said, David Quinn invited us to believe the absurd proposition that he and his fellow fundamentalists are not campaigning, even though they appear on national radio and TV week in and week out opposing a Yes vote.

It’s nonsense and yet David Quinn seems to think we’re all as gullible as that.

Iona has pointed out that it sees no need to register with SIPO since it has received no contribution of more than €100.  This week, it seems, Iona is inviting us to believe that none of its supporters has contributed more than €200 to its campaign.  Not even the leading international businessmen in Legatus, of which David is the Dublin director.  Are they really saying that not one of these multi-millionaires could manage to kick in the price of a single top-class Cuban cigar?

Not a single one of them donated more than €200.

Amnesty International has disclosed that it will spend €30,000 pursuing a campaign in favour of a Yes vote, and yet the ever-present Iona Institute survives on the odd tenner, as Breda O’Brien put it, from grannies in Donegal.

Wealthy, pizza-empire-owning grannies in Donegal, no doubt.

I’m not calling Iona liars, but I don’t believe them, as is my right.

The real question is this.   Should RTE continue to facilitate a pressure group that won’t abide by the same standards of transparency as its opponents?

Should David, Breda, Ben (Breda’s son), Breda’s sister-in-law and all the other hangers-on continue to have unlimited access to our publicly-funded broadcaster while they refuse to disclose the sources of their funding?

This is very sinister.

What does Iona have to hide?


All articles on Iona.

  11 Responses to “Iona Institute Refuses to Register as Third Party in Same-Sex Referendum Campaign”

Comments (10) Pingbacks (1)

    There’s a special place in Hell for trouble-making unbelievers like you Bock: right beside my own, next to the beer cooler.

    Keep up the good work!


    I agree with every thing you’ve written except one thing,charismatic ? From what I read and hear from Quinn, I think he has about as much charisma a brick.


    What is their connection with RTE. How and why do they generate so much airtime (free advertising)


    @Leftwinger – I think they’re the only organisation willing to go on TV and debate the issues – The Catholic Church don’t seem too keen except for a few press releases here and there.

    Well done Bock, we deserve to know who’s bankrolling Iona

    roll on May so we can get this passed once and for all and be done listening to Iona


    i wonder should we (by which I mean you, Bock) start a petition for media outlets not to use Iona or Iona associated people, in the run up to the referendum on the basis of their reluctance to be open about who funds them?

    They trive on two things:
    Mysterious funding
    media attention

    We can’t do anything about the former so egg big deprive them of the latter?


    breda was on news talk yesterday morning campaigning heavily against gay marriage and was credited as being from the iona institute


    what if there was a whip round, and €201 was donated to them? be interesting to follow the money trail.


    Would you look at that, they literally just registered yesterday, past the deadline and all..


    The answer is to refuse to oppose them on radio or television. In an enforced 50/50 situation, if nobody can be found to play with them, they’ll have to stay at home.


    Undeniably imagine that that you said. Your favorite reason appeared to be at the internet the easiest thinbg to bear in mind of.
    I say to you, I definitely get irked while other people consider cocerns that they plainly do not understand about.
    Yoou managed to hit the nail upon the highesst and also outlined out the whole thing without having side efect , people could take a signal.

    Will probably bee again to gett more. Thanks

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