It has been a politically inclement week for Ireland’s premier femoid advocacy group the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI), with scorned Fine Gael hitting out at the group’s alleged favouritism towards left-leaning and opposition TDs.
Receiving generous state annuities to the tune of a million euro annually, the group incurred the ire of Regina Doherty TD and others for the apparent exclusion of government voices at a protest rally planned next month.
Headlining with the likes of Ruth Coppinger, Mary Lou MacDonald and Ivana Bacik, the lineout for the advertised ‘Women’s Rally’ was noticeable in its absence of either Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael representatives.
Originally founded by Blueshirt Monica Barnes, the NWCI has garnered a reputation over the years for its links to the FG party and a relatively ‘centrist’ outlook, which in the Irish mainstream correlates with not explicitly being left-wing.
Helping to fashion legislation on abortion and gender quotas, many pro-life advoctates have called into question how a state-funded NGO can pursue such a partisan agenda without proper oversight.
In 2019 Gript reported on NWCI managing to get their paws on charity funds to the tune of €270,000, with the NGO registering a hefty €330,000 in cash reserves according to their most recent accounting, and their annual income stream tallying in the region of €1.3 million as of 2019.
The sudden bad blood between the NWCI and Fine Gael bespeaks a worsening working relationship behind the scenes, with indications that the NGO is prepping for the inevitable Sinn Féin-Left coalition of circa 2024.
The spat is noteworthy for two reasons. Firstly it puts beyond doubt the ideological bent of the NWCI on the left of Irish politics, and Fine Gael’s response illustrates the subservient relationship they expect from a state-funded NGO.
Ultimately the likes of Regina Doherty are getting peeved at the partisan reality of the NGO complex, and the fact they have seemingly lost control of what was once a useful networking and lobbying tool for middle class female and corporate professionals.
The nakedly transparent hypocrisy of NWCI’s state funding streams and political activity has become too obvious for some in Fine Gael, but we have a long road to travel before we even consider reeling in the NGO sector in this country.