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Human Rights NGOs must be included in Charities Bill – Ó Snodaigh

11 February, 2009


Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon on the Charities Bill 2007 Sinn Féin Human Rights Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD made an eleventh hour appeal to the Government to include the advancement of human rights as a charitable purpose in the Bill before passing it into law. Deputy Ó Snodaigh accused the Government of using the Charities Bill to attack human rights NGOs.

He said, "We are witnessing a concerted and systematic assault on our human rights architecture. Following Budget 2009 - The Human Rights Commission suffered a 24% cut to its funding. Funding to the Equality Authority was slashed by an incredible 42% and its decentralisation seems set to be going ahead which will further undermine its ability to operate. Combat Poverty, the National Consultative Committee on Racism (NCCRI) and the national Action Plan Against Racism have all been closed down.

"The government used Budget 2009 to slash funding to those human rights advocacy bodies that it funds directly via the Exchequer. And they are using this Bill to undermine the ability of those human rights NGOs that are beyond their reach to raise revenue privately.

"Passing this Bill as it currently stands will be detrimental to our human rights infrastructure. Human rights NGOs will find it more difficult to access funding; the principle of equivalence in the Good Friday Agreement will be undermined as human rights advocacy is afforded charitable status in the North; and existing organisations that frame their work in human rights terms may risk the removal of their charitable status.

"We must take a stand in defence of our, once world renowned, human rights infrastructure. In the absence of the inclusion of human rights NGOs in this Bill I and my Sinn Féin colleagues will be opposing its passage." ENDS

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