The money was just resting in their account
The queering of the Irish pork barrel
A scandal is breaking in Ireland as it is emerging that the country’s equality minister, Roderic O’Gorman has been transferring large sums of money to gender identity projects for the last 18 months, money which had been earmarked for spending on initiatives for ethnic minorities and survivors of state-sponsored abuse. Most shockingly, money was taken from The Magdalene Laundry Redress fund, which aims to pay compensation for women and girls who’d been abused by the Catholic church and the Irish state in those infamous institutions.
One of the major beneficiaries is a transgender group that experienced a funding halt from Ireland’s health service due to repeated accounting lapses during the same period.
Ireland’s Independent newspaper has broken the story about Ireland’s Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, led by the Green Party’s Roderic O’Gorman. Earlier this year, O’Gorman said he wanted primary school children to be taught gender ideology so that they have “an understanding of diversity”.
According to the results of several Freedom of Information requests, the paper reports that in 2021 and 2022, his department sought and transferred €1.1 million of “unspent money” to ‘LGBTQ+ projects’.
The money was originally allocated to schemes for the traveler and Roma communities, migrant integration and Magdalene laundry redress. The latter program was set up by the Irish government in 2013 to provide financial compensation and other forms of assistance to the survivors of the Magdalen Laundries, whose suffering was found to be at least the partial responsibility of the Irish State. The redress scheme provided compensation to survivors who had worked in the laundries, as well as to those who had been placed in the care of the institutions as children.
According to officials, O’Gorman pursued a “once-off exceptional measure” in 2021 to double his LGBT budget by reallocating €800,000 made up from so-called ‘underspends’ originally intended for these groups.
The money was then used to fund 42 LGBT projects, including more than €40,000 for the ‘Pride Flag Award’ and more than €8,000 for the ‘National Women’s Council: NWC - A Transinclusive Feminist organisation’. That same National Womens Council (NWC) has a social media strategy to block any Irish women who speak up against their redefinition of the word ‘woman’ to include men. It may be no coincidence that trans-identifying male ‘Sara Philips’, who was chair of Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) until last summer, is on the NWC board of directors. Philips stepped down from TENI last year after coverage of their questionable financial activities became too persistent.
Documents repeatedly state that the money was a “one-off”, however, a year later, towards the end of 2022, €350,000 earmarked for travelers and Roma communities (six percent of their entire budget) was transferred to LGBT projects.
The FOI request reveals that a finance official in O’Gorman’s department warned that this “breach” of the original allocation had to be approved by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
This was achieved, and the money funded four new LGBT projects.
A significant proportion of the money (€93,874) was sent to Transgender Equality Network of Ireland (TENI), which has been described as ‘Ireland’s Stonewall’.
The money to TENI was approved in December 2022. Less than two months earlier, the Health Service Executive (HSE), the publicly funded healthcare system in Ireland, suspended TENI funding over the organisation’s repeated failure to produce complete financial accounts. This funding was subsequently reinstated by the HSE despite questions remaining about TENI’s ability to file on time.
Digging deeper into the FOIs you get an idea of where this cream has come from. The Minister has a policy of only awarding 85% of funds to some projects.
TENI, on the other hand, got over 100% of their application due to the clear urgency of their project, a ‘Trans Awareness Hub’.
TENI had applied for a total of €93, 615 and they were granted the full amount. Why are other funds only granted 85% of requested funding year after year but TENI get 100%?
Why the special treatment?
It is clear from the FOI exchanges that staff within Roderic’s own department have been questioning some of the funding decisions. Here you can see an external review of the applications for funding was set up in relation to TENI funding due to ‘different views on those internally in Equality Division’.
Perhaps the DCEDIY staff have been watching the HSE pause TENI funding intermittently during 2022 because of frequent financial irregularities?
Whistleblowers believe that The Public Accounts Committee have written to the DCEDIY and the HSE for clarity in relation to the 2022 funding to TENI.
Peadar Tóibín, the leader of the political party Aontú, who was among those submitting the FoI requests says this is a national scandal.
“In the days prior to the announcement of the controversial Mother and Baby Homes Redress Scheme, in November 2021, Department of Children officials with the support of Minister O’Gorman sought to take hundreds of thousands in underspends in the Magdalene Scheme and divert the funding towards the LGBTQ+ Community Services Funding Call,” he said.
“I’m furious at the idea that while the government were busy apologising to mother and baby home survivors and trying to convince the world they simply didn’t have the funds to pay survivors, they were actually secretly raiding the Magdalene Scheme… Funding was also diverted from the traveller and Roma unit. This is a national scandal, especially given the current alarming suicide rates among members of the traveller communities.
“Funding of LGBTQ+ groups should not come at the expense of other vulnerable groups of people in our society.”