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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.


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

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.

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

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

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.

Chuck Feeney's 200m generosity to University of Limerick

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


“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.


I will be voting Yes in the Referendum