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Monday, 2 March 2015

Chuck Feeney the Koch brother of Ireland: American Money in Irish Referendums

Churck Feeney made his money through setting up businesses based on avoiding tax, in particular in various duty free shops at airports.

Chuck Feeney may be called Irish because at least one grandparents was Irish but really he's American, American-Irish at most.
Born in New Jersey in 1931. A grandmother from Fermanagh, Chuck Feeney Has dual Irish and American citizenship.
Seems he got his Irish citizenship in 1989.

He had been granted Irish citizenship some fifteen years previously— he qualified by having one grandparent born in Ireland— and held dual Irish -U.S. nationality.
O'Clery, Conor (2013-08-27). The Billionaire Who Wasn't: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune (p. 276)

Celebrating Irishness Charles Feeney

Rich people being able to choose how to spend money to help others, can use that money to influence governments based on their interests, the problem with that is the rest of us don't get to individually pick and choose, we influence spending on public services as a collective by voting in members of parliament. One man with a million Euro gets far more access and influence then a 10,000 people with 100 Euro. Even though I generally agree with the progressive causes he spends his money on in Ireland, I'm still concerned that one man can have so much influence on the government and the country.

In 1964 a young New York lawyer, Harvey Dale, told Mr Feeney that changes in the tax laws threatened his business, which was running risks that could put the founders in jail. On his advice, Mr Feeney and his co-founder, Robert Miller, transferred ownership to their foreign-born wives, from France and Ecuador, respectively.

In 1982 he created a foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies, based in Bermuda

“Saipan had no tourism and didn’t even have a hotel,” recalled Alan Parker. “Chuck came up with the idea that this has to be a good place for tourism , but all that existed from the war was this runway, old and long and overgrown. We went to the government authority and said, ‘We will finance the building of an airport, the redoing of the runway in return for a twenty-year concession on the duty free in Saipan.’” “Then we did the best tax deal in the world,” said Pilaro . “We made Saipan the biggest tax haven in the United States, waving the flag. We had legislation enacted that exempted Saipan-sourced income from being taxed. We built the whole thing. It was a gold mine. No tax.”

O'Clery, Conor (2013-08-27). The Billionaire Who Wasn't: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune (p. 84). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.

Chuck-Feeney the billionaire who is trying to go broke Although he had shifted his ownership to Atlantic via a complex Bahamas-based asset swap to minimize disclosure and taxes
He has aggressively tried to avoid taxes at every stage in his career–from setting up his early business in Lichtenstein, incorporating his holding company in Bermuda and listing it under the name of his then wife Danielle, a French citizen–despite gaining no personal advantage in his later years.
Atlantic Philanthropies
Atlantic Philanthropies set up in 1982 as Tara Consultants.
You can view Atlantic Philanthropies Irish grants here.

Since 1982, Mr. Feeney's organisation, Atlantic Philanthropies, has donated almost €800 million to Irish universities.
Grants totalling 52 million at 2012 Focusing on Eldery Care, Immgrants, college Research and facilities.

Secrecy



Although Atlantic Philanthropy now has a website listing all the grants since 2001, for a long time he was not public about his donations, some say modesty others may say secrecy.

Even his biography is called "The Billionaire Who Wasn't: How Chuck Feeney Made and Gave Away a Fortune Without Anyone Knowing" and RTE produced a documentary is called Secret Billionaire: The Chuck Feeney Story.

In 2003 matching grant of €75 million he gave secretly without anyone knowing about it.
The addendum turned out to be the authorization they were seeking. Seventy-five million pounds of taxpayers’ money would be put up to match the anonymous IR £ 75 million from Atlantic. Bertie Ahern would announce the IR £ 150-million fund the following Thursday and would describe Feeney’s half as private funding.
At a press conference the following Thursday in Dublin, Bertie Ahern announced a IR £ 150-million research program that would involve new laboratories , computer and study facilities, and research library development , to be called the Program for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI). He made no mention of Atlantic, saying only that half would come from “matching private spending to be raised by the universities and institutes of technology.”
The Billionaire Who Wasn't: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune (p. 273) Conor O'Clery.

Astonishingly, the secretary general of the Department of Education and Science was not really aware of the role Feeney had played in funding Irish universities during the previous ten years. After the dinner he asked one of his top officials, Paddy McDonagh, to make some inquiries about Atlantic Philanthropies. McDonagh spoke to contacts in the Department of Foreign Affairs and reported back, “It’s highly secretive, and if you make any approach to them at all, that’s it, all communications are finished, are dead.” It was a measure of the effectiveness of Harvey Dale’s strictures that the education department was in the dark. It was, moreover, not in the interest of university presidents to let the world know anything about their friend Chuck, as they feared it could mean less funding from the Higher Education Authority. New libraries, science buildings, and student villages were going up on every campus, no one in the education department had connected the dots.

Thornhill (head of the Department of Education and Science) never kept notes of these meetings , nor did he make entries in his desk diary, as he might be forced one day to make them public under the Freedom of Information Act.

“This was real cloak-and -dagger stuff,” recalled Thornhill. “We were so concerned about secrecy that we wouldn’t even use the telephone .” When they wanted to talk about Chuck and Atlantic among themselves, they didn’t dare say the names aloud. They referred to “our friends,” or “our mutual friends .”
What would happen if someone asked the prime minister or minister for education a question about the anonymous donor?

O'Clery, Conor (2013-08-27). The Billionaire Who Wasn't: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune (pp. 269-273). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.

Bill Gates
He is said to have influenced Bill Gates and others into 'giving while living'. Bill Gates monopoly in bundling its web browser with OS and paying it manufacturing partners not to use any other OS United_States v. Microsoft_Corp, would it not have been better not to acted in monopolistic ways, maybe other companies could have succeeded and spread the jobs, and tax revenue.

The Kock Brothers
The Koch brothers are two sons of an Oil refiner Fred C. Koch that started Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held company in the United States, they spend are large amounts known and unknown money on right wing causes to undermine the state. The Kock brothers have been accused of using labyrinthine ways to funnel money into many different organisations to promote their views.

Foreign Funding

The Marriage Equality Referendum
The Yes Equality Campaign, which for the moment has been focussing on getting people registered to vote, is fnded by Gay + Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) funded partly by Atlantic Philanthropies and Marriage Equality who are funded partly by Atlantic Philanthropies and Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), they and the Irish Civil Liberties Trust are funding by private donations, including Atlantic Philanthopies.

Marriage Equality Campaign funding

Grantee
GrantYearGrant amount
Marriage Equality LtdCampaign for Marriage Equality2010-2011$ 475,215
National Lesbian & Gay Federation (NLGF)MarriagEquality/GCN2002-2008$ 1,370,162
The Irish Council for Civil LibertiesCore Support for ICCL2004 - 2013$11,367,148
Gay and Lesbian Equality NetworkCore Support2005-2011$ 4,727,860

Not all this money was spent on Marriage Equality some was spent on general support for LGBT and capacity building for the entire organisation which obviously helps in campaigning on Marriage equality.

Will Ireland vote for gay marriage? Historic vote coming upNiall O'Dowd - Irish Central October 01 2014

Our belief is that there will be major U.S. money involved,” says Brady, a former elected councillor in Donegal who now runs GLEN’s policy side full time. “This is a critical vote for them.”

GLEN was funded by Chuck Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies back when gay issues were completely under the radar in Ireland. The Irish American billionaire who gave all his money away saw the group as standing up for human rights, an issue dear to his own heart whether it was Northern Ireland Nationalists or LGBT men and women.

Brady pays a fulsome tribute to the anonymous Feeney. “He made it possible for us to exist and create the network,” he says.

Constitutional Assembly
Chuck Feeney charity funds citizens assembly idea

Atlantic Philanthropy says it does not take unsolicited applicants for grants but it did in this case,

Political scientists connected to the project approached Atlantic Philanthropies a year ago requesting funding to organise a citizens’ assembly focused on political reform, Mr Mac Conghail said at the launch of the initiative in Dublin yesterday.
Atlantic Philantrophies gave €630k to a group of academics to run a examplar citizen assembly with meetings and website at wethecitizen.ie in order to encourage the government to set up its own, which a number of parties had a constituional assembly in their election manifestos and the government implemented it after the next election.

We The Citizens: Final Report

Convention on the Constitution. Irish Government Convention started in 2012.

Abortion
National Women's Council of Ireland NWCI which was funded for Promotion of Gender Equality. NWCI supports reduced restrictions on abortion This is a clear acknowledgement in our laws that access to abortion can be necessary in order to save women’s lives

Pro-life sites say that the Report included a pro-abortion statement and the several NGO's that had been been involved withdrew their endorsement.

Rightsnow.ie organised by the ICCL
Your Rights - Right Now Report (pdf)

UN UPR Shadow Report
http://www.opinionviewer.com/petition/not-our-name-withdraw-support-pro-abortion-document

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties Strengthening Human Rights for the Disadvantaged

Controversy relating to pro-abortion UPR report deepens

Not in Our Name - Withdraw Support for Pro-Abortion Document

Universitys
1990: Atlantic makes its first grant to University of Limerick to construct advanced research, conference and cultural facilities. Lifetime grants: $170 million.

Childrens Rights

Children's Rights Alliance is an association of 100 others NGO's campaign for improvement in child conditions, which over the last years campaigned for a campaigned for a referendum 'on the right and duty of the state to take child protection measures', based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which occued in November 2012 Thirty-first Amendment of the Constitution (Children) Bill 2012.

The Children's Rights Alliance received over 4 million dollars over ten years from Atlantic Philanthropies.

UL
Chuck Feeney's 200m generosity to University of Limerick

Links
A Billion Still to Spend, and Only Two Years to Do It

http://www.economist.com/node/9903943
http://web.archive.org/web/20130912101039/http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0823-26.htm
http://www.finfacts.ie/irishfinancenews/article_1026589.shtml
http://newint.org/features/2012/04/01/bill-gates-charitable-giving-ethics/
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-17664893
http://www.villagemagazine.ie/index.php/2014/03/corrupting-philanthropy/
www.ictr.ie

“Americans for a New Ireland Agenda”


Constitutional Assembly in Manifestos

Fine Gael Manifesto 2011 (page 7)
We will establish a Citizens Assembly, along the lines of those used in the Netherlands, to make recommendations on electoral reform.

LAbour Party Manifesto 2011 (Page 41)It
is time for a fundamental review of our Constitution, by the people to whom it belongs. Labour proposes a Constitutional Convention, a coming together of all strands of Irish society to rewrite our Constitution.

Green Party Manifesto 2011 (page 13)
Within six months of entering Government, hold a referendum on establishing a Citizens Assembly, which would be tasked with drawing up a new draft constitution within 18 months.

Fianna Fail Manifesto 2011 page 35
We support the principle of a Citizen’s assembly. This would bring together a group of citizens to debate and
recommend specific proposals.

Sinn Fein Manifesto 2011
A new Constitution. Establishing an all-Ireland Constitutional Forum drawn from representatives of both legislatures on this island, civic society, business
and trade unions to discuss and bring forward a Draft Constitution that would be put to the people in a referendum.

http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20authoring/DebatesWebPack.nsf/takes/dail2007110100009?opendocument&highlight=chuck%20feeney

I will be voting Yes in the Referendum

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Irish Governments perpetual cronyism

Ex minister passes note to Taoiseach seeking crony appointment Daniel McConnell Sunday Independent 25/01/2015

Former Fine Gael minister and Independent TD Michael Lowry lobbied Taoiseach Enda Kenny to have his female former press advisor reappointed to a State board, the Sunday Independent can reveal

He handed Kenny a note in the Dail and it was left behind and found its way to the Sindo.

Then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen made a deal to appoint Lowry picks in the previous government term in return for support when the government needed it on close votes in the Dail.

Revealed secret deals for Lowry and Healy-Rae Fiach Kelly - Independent 09/04/2011
CONTROVERSIAL TD Michael Lowry and former Independent deputy Jackie Healy-Rae were each given three positions on state boards to hand out to supporters as part of a secret deal struck with Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen. "As part of my agreement with the Government, I had three appointments to state boards. It was part of the deal and that was it."

Donohoe recently reappointed 3 other board members, her 5 year term is up in March and they are 3 other terms up this year.

Paschal Donohoe says Michael Lowry approached him about appointing Ms Valerie O'Reilly to the board of NTA.
Video: Appearance would be last thing on my mind for board appointments - Donohoe - Newstalk 26 January 2015

Watching the video it sounds like he may reappoint her, he quotes the new guidelines almost verbatim, as if he's checked whether he's within the rules in reappointing her, but would part of Minister Donohoe consideration not be, that she was appointed as part of a crony deal in the first place. Even if the chairman of the NTA says she did the job well, the crony deal is the reason she got on the board the first time and it will be the reason she gets on the board again, without having to go through any of the process any other person would because the new stateboard appointment guidelines don't apply to reappointees.

Lowry also spoke-to minister about job on state board for former adviser
Mr Lowry pulled Mr Donohoe aside outside the Seanad chamber on Wednesday and informed him "out of courtesy" that he intended to "pass a note to the Taoiseach" seeking the reappointment of Valerie O'Reilly to the board of the National Transport Authority (NTA).

55k in fees for ex Lowry adviser on note to Enda Philip Ryan 26/01/2015

Dept of Transport board fees National Transport Authority Director €11,970 per year.

You can read the NTA Corporate reports to see the work done of by the NTA, read its board minutes and meeting attendance records in the NTA Annual Report 2013.

NTA board Timeline

Data

Exceptions
I had thought that this was a Fianna Fail created problem between them and a Independent TD (although formely a Fine Gael TD and Minister), and that they had done nothing wrong, yet, but Elaine Byrne's insightful tweets below made me realise how likely it is that they will reappoint her and that it will perpetuate that FF government cronyism into the Fine Gael/Labour governement.

Elaine Byrne an academic and expert on corruption pointed out the new stateboard rules announced last year don't apply to reappointments.



Dept of Public Expenditure & Reform Minister Howlin publishes State Board Guidelines Guidelines on Appointments to State Boards (.pdf).

9. Exceptions
9.1 There are a number of specific exceptions from the arrangements. It will be open for Ministers to appoint Board members, other than strictly in accordance with the process but only in circumstances where:-
9.1.5 In the case of proposed re-appointments to State Boards where the Minister is satisfied having consulted with the Chair that the Board member has already demonstrated through their performance as a member of the State Board their effectiveness and contribution which warrants their re-appointment.

Even if the Chairman of the board says she did a good job in the past 5 years it will still be cronyism to reappoint, the reason she was put on the board the first time was because of cronyism.

Advertisement


I searched for an advertisment for calls for expressions of interest on serving on the NTA board and haven't found anything. I've noted before how departments usually puts out a yearly wide call for public interest to serve on any state board under its aegis but I don't think the Department of Transport has done that in a while and has stated it will follow the new guidelines of going through the Public Appointment Service and stateboards.ie. The PAS stateboards invites people to register for willingness to serve on any stateboard with a Pre-application form which indicates the type qualities required and allows you to tell them you're qualifications and experience via a form on publicjobs.ie How soon before or after a position is vacant are they supposed to be advertised? I asked stateboards.ie and they say there no predetermine time to post vacancies and have to wait to be informed of vacancies by the relevant departments. It seems Ministers are leaving it till a board is near inquorate, then say they have to ignore the new rules because its an emergency. Does having made an internal decision to reappoint enable the Minister to evade the requirement to advertise the position.

There will soon be 6 vacancies. Quorom is 5 Meetings and procedures of Authority. Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008

Ex minister passes note to Taoiseach seeking crony appointment
The ratio of women involved in public institutions is a topical issue. I have been a diligent and effective member of the NTA Board and I would be willing to continue to make a contribution to its work. I made Michael Lowry, my local TD, amongst others, aware of this."

as ever its not whether you can do the job thats the only problem, its how you got the position, using gender diversity to justify cronynism is appalling.

stateboards.ie

I'll use this to point out again how the new stateboards website is is already out of date, yet Enda Kenny was in the Dail this week saying

Enda Kenny The questions are irrelevant. We are in a very different space now and all appointments to any State board are first advertised on www.stateboards.ie. Any person anywhere in the country who wishes to apply for any of these positions must apply through that website, meet the criteria set out there, be vetted, and have his or her credentials verified as suitable for appointment to the relevant State board before anything further can happen. I refer Deputies to the guidelines on appointments to State boards which were published in November last year by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. They set out a very different position for the future for all of these appointments. They require that while www.stateboards.iebecomes a one-stop-shop for all of these appointments, candidates must specify relevant experience, educational and other qualifications, particular personal attributes and a range of skills they will bring to board membership. The portal also contains definitive current information on all statutory boards including legal basis, membership, terms of appointment, current vacancies, gender balance and other diversity indicators. For the information of Deputies, the guidance on appointments to State boards sets out all of these things

Except it isn't, this is the page for the National Transport Authority membership, its out of date, 3 people have been re-appointed to the NTA since the department does have it own records up to date though.

Lobbying

Brendan Howlin when discussing the Register of Lobbying Bill refused to put lobbying for state boards positions a registerable act of lobbying.

Brendan Howlin: In my judgment, with all due respect, I think Deputy Fleming's amendment misses the point. He says that nobody should lobby for a place on a State board; I want everybody to lobby to go on a State board, or to be free to lobby to go on a State board. For instance, a local community organisation might decide that Deputy Mary Lou McDonald would be a great person to be on a State board, and its members could decide to write to the Public Appointments Service or to the Minister to ask for her to be considered. Organisations promoting women or people with disabilities, which might decide there are not sufficient numbers of women or disabled people or people from ethnic minorities on State boards, should be entitled to ask that they be considered - to put the case that they are a suite of people with unique qualifications and should be considered for appointments to State boards. My view on appointments to State boards is that people should be encouraged to lobby, in that sense - to promote themselves, to advance themselves. Once they submit their applications to the PAS, there will be a transparent selection system and the list of candidates will be put to the Minister or to the decision makers at the time, be that the Government or whoever. This is important, in my view, particularly in a generic way, if it means the inclusion of more women or more rural people or urban people, depending on the issue. People should not be debarred from doing so..
the problem with this is that the PAS my qualify a person for stateboards position (or find no reason to object to them) they may be qualified but that isn't why they got the job. I doubt TDs lobbying the Taoiseach or Ministers would be covered though, would it have covered state board members asking TDs to lobbying for them to be reappointed?

Regulation of Lobbying Bill 2014

Fine Gael
Minister of Agriculture, Food & the Marine Simon Coveney (Fine Gael) already reappointed one of Michael Lowry's Fianna Fail deal picks. William (Billy) O'Dwyer was reappointed to the Irish Greyhound board in 2012.
Revealed secret deals for Lowry and Healy-Rae Fiach Kelly 09/04/2011
Irish Greybound board Irish Examiner archive.
Bord na gCon/Irish Greyhound Board membership.
Sean Fogarty, who was given a position with the Equality Authority, which is based in Roscrea in Mr Lowry's constituency.
1 of the 3 picks Sean Fogarty was not re-appointed to the Equality board which was merged with the Irish Human Rights Commission and reformed as the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission It headquarters is in Dublin now.

Fine Gael in 2011 shortly after entering government threatened that they would demand everyone put on boards in the last days of the Fianna Fail government to give up there position, ie those appointed after the election was called and before the new government formed. But Enda Kenny said they got legal advice they could not do this, this would not apply to Valarie O'Reilly who was appointed in 2010.

Committee of Public Accounts - 24/Jan/2013 National Transport Authority - Financial Statement 2011 (Continued) Shane Ross was having a go at the NTA CEO back in 2013, no quibbles from him on those reappointed although John Fitzgerald has interesting past.

Criteria
The current members of the Authority were appointed on 1st December 2009 by my predecessor in accordance with Section 14 of the Dublin Transport Authority Act, 2008 as amended by the Public Transport Regulation Act 2009 and their term expires on 30th November 2014.

Public Transport Regulation Act 2009
Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008
Membership of Authority.

14.— (1) The Authority shall consist of a chairperson and 9 ordinary members who shall perform and carry out the functions of the Authority in accordance with this Act.
(d) the chairperson and 6 ordinary members, from persons who in the opinion of the Minister have wide experience in relation to transport, industrial, commercial, financial, land use planning or environmental matters, the organisation of workers or administration.


Which can be used to describe almost anyone.

Extension
3 people were appointed in 2010 to NTA by Minister Dempsey for 4 years only 1 stayed on for 1 more year, Valerie O'Reilly


Tuesday, 7 December 2010 Department of Transport
Ministerial Appointments

Valerie O'Reilly National Transport Authority 15/03/2010 - 14/03/2014
Margaret O'Shaughnessy National Transport Authority 31/03/2010 - 30/11/2014
Jim Deegan National Transport Authority 04/06/2010 - 30/11/2014

Leo Varadkar (Minister, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport 20 September 2011
Member Date of Expiry/Renewal
Ms. Valerie O’Reilly 14/03/2014
Ms. Margaret O’Shaughnessy 30/11/2014
Mr. Jim Deegan 30/11/2014


Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008, Section 14
(4) A member of the Authority appointed in accordance with subsection (2)(d) including the chairperson—
(a) shall be appointed for a period of not more than 5 years,

Margaret O’Shaughnessy and Jim Deegan left the board in 2014 2015 01 12 DTTAS state boards (pdf)

Valerie O’Reilly's term was already extended last year.

Links
Minister announces further state board appointments 31/10/2014
NTA Corporate reports
NTA Annual Report
NTA About the Board
Company directors have ties to Lowry | Irish Examiner pril 06, 2012 Juno McEnroe.

State board membership and approved fees
Details of Dept of Transport Boards
NTA on membership.stateboards.ie