Youth Defence lashes funding disclosure plans

Anti-abortion campaign group Youth Defence said it should not be subject to rules on disclosure of funding because it is a human rights organisation and “not campaigning for political purposes”.

The group was responding to a report in this newspaper that Environment Minister Phil Hogan is considering laws that would force Youth Defence, and other third-party groups, to register with the political-funding watchdog.

The Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) said it is “firmly of the view” that the activities of Youth Defence are political and it should therefore register with it and submit its accounts.

Under law, third parties — or individuals and groups other than political parties — who accept donations for political purposes must register with Sipo.

However, the commission said the definition of “political purposes” in the relevant legislation is “quite broad” and on that basis, Youth Defence believes it does not need to register.

Youth Defence insists it is not required to register with Sipo, and that its funding comes from small donations from the public.

In a statement, the group said: “It would be a matter for concern if the Government forced compliance costs on hard-pressed human rights organisations — in particular when those organisations hold a position which may not be in agreement with the Government’s view on the protection on human life.”

The group added: “We are not campaigning for political purposes.”

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