It has been revealed that An Taoiseach and a number of government ministers met with the board of Atlantic Philanthropies, the billion dollar US fund which has gifted over 17 million dollars to the organisations that make up the YES Equality Campaign.
The meeting took place a number of months before the Government announced that a referendum on same sex marriage would be held in Ireland.
The information about the meeting was made public by Independent TD, Mattie McGrath this morning who explained that the CEO of Atlantic Philanthropies, Christopher Oechsli gave an interview in 2013 where he referenced a meeting with the Taoiseach and members of the Cabinet.
In the interview published in Alliance Magazine in April, 2013, Mr, Oechsli said: ‘Our board recently met with the Taoiseach and government ministers about what we are seeking to do in our final years.”
Deputy McGrath said:
“It has come to light in recent days that US fund Atlantic Philanthropies has given 17 milllion dollars to the organisations that make up YES Equality, the main group campaigning for a Yes vote on Friday. Now it transpires that the Taoiseach and a number of ministers met with the board of Atlantic Philanthropies in early 2013, a number of months before the referendum was announced.
“I would ask one simple question; has Atlantic Philanthropies given a cent to those opposing the referendum?
“To avoid any question of undue influence, it is imperative that the Taoiseach confirm whether the issue of holding a referendum on same sex marriage in Ireland was discussed at the March 2013 or indeed any other meeting with Atlantic Philanthropies”
“I am deeply worried about the way that this referendum has been proposed and debated and by the fact that it has been put before the people without the necessary consultative process that usually precedes such a major constitutional change.”
“Whilst acknowledging all of the good work that has happened in Ireland with the help of funds from Atlantic philanthropies, it is nonetheless unacceptable that millions and millions of dollars have funded organisations for which the campaigning for same sex marriage has been a primary activity in recent years.
“In the interests of transparency and democracy, I think it is essential that the Taoiseach inform the public whether the matter of the referendum or the Constitutional Convention that proposed it was brought up at the meeting with the board of Atlantic Philanthropies. The public needs to be reassured that an American fund has not been influencing government decision making on social change in Ireland” concluded Deputy McGrath
(i) Taoiseach’s diary online at this link references meeting of 12th March
2013 with AP Board and CEO though no other easily accessible press or media
reference to meeting.