A new report from an organisation in America attacks the Iona Institute in a highly defamatory manner, but the attack is so bad that it has been recognised as such by fair-minded liberals who have criticised the report in public and defended us.
The document was published by a Washington DC-based outfit called the ‘Global Project Against Hate and Extremism’ (GPAHE). It lists 12 alleged ‘far-right’ organisations in Ireland. Some do fall into that category, although almost no-one will have heard of them (‘Proud Boys Ireland’, for instance). The accompanying press release is even worse than the document itself and contains further gross defamations.
Even the LGB Alliance is included in the report. This group is comprised of very strongly pro-choice feminists who criticise some of the implications of transgender ideology for women.
But very soon after its publication, voices emerged to criticise the report, and our inclusion in it. They were from people who would be on the opposite side of the fence to the Iona Institute on almost all social issues including the right-to-life, the nature of marriage, and the role of religion in society.
We will list and quote the various individuals below and let what they had to say speak for itself.
Michael Nugent (Atheist Ireland)
“The Iona Institute is not a ‘hate group’. I disagree with and campaign against its harmful religious policies. But calling it “hate group” is unjust, and devalues the power of the word ‘hate’.”
Tiernan Brady (Leading campaigner for same-sex marriage)
“I have campaigned on the other side of the Iona Institute and it is absolutely incorrect and damaging for all of us in society for groups to lazily call them a ‘hate group’. Discussing and debating with each other the shape of our future is essential for our country.”
Brendan Ryan (former Senator)
“I don’t think the Iona institute is a hate organisation. Indeed I think individuals connected with it are good and decent individuals. It’s just in my opinion that their vision of society and if church are wrong. But they have an unchallengeable, undilutable right to speak.”
Mick Clifford (columnist and political commentator)
“To describe the Iona Institute as “far right” is akin to suggesting Fine Gael are Nazis or saying that Sinn Féin is full of Stalinists.”
Hugh Lenihan (Irish Times, commenting on the article by Mick Clifford)
“Well said. And about time someone pushed back on that report.”
Ronan McGreevy (Irish Times, replying to Hugh Lenihan)
“Well said Hugh.”
Professor Ronan McCrea (law lecturer)
“Democracy is based on the idea that discussion is how we decide on controversial issues. Indiscriminately designating opinions you disagree with as ‘hate’ profoundly undermines democracy. I often disagree with the Iona Institute but it is not a hate group.”
“This is an approach that has not served the US well and which would be a terrible addition to Irish politics. Those who deem such a wide range of views ‘hate’ may think they are defending liberal democracy but they are doing the opposite.”
Donal O’Donovan (Irish Independent, replying to Ronan McCrea)
“Agreed, it’s very hard to read that report as anything other than an attempt to narrow the field of acceptable public debate using a heavy dollop of guilt by implication / association.”
The report is an extremely nasty piece of work and a blatant attempt to further constrict public debate in Ireland and elsewhere. But it is good that fair-minded liberals see it for what it is and have spoken out accordingly.