Now that the Iona Institute has made a significant U-turn, by acknowledging that they promote a political purpose and have to register with the Standards in Public Office Commission, we should remember that another law limits the type of political activity they can engage in.
The Iona Institute has tax-exempt status in Ireland under the Charities Act. Its main object in its Governing Instrument is to advance and promote the Christian religion and its social and moral values.
Under the Charities Act, the income and property of a charity must be applied solely towards the promotion of its main charitable object. Also, a charity can only promote a political cause, when that political cause is directly related to its main charitable object.
The sole purpose of the Iona Institute is to advance and promote the Christian religion and its social and moral values. That is all that they are allowed to do using the income and property of the Institute.
So when the Iona Institute try to portray themselves as a quasi-academic think-tank that is proposing essentially secular arguments, media interviewers should challenge its spokespersons on this reality.
They should ask the Iona spokespersons how the arguments that they are making against marriage equality advance the Christian religion and its values?
And if they cannot answer that question, then they are not lawfully permitted to advance those arguments using the name or income or property of the Iona Institute.
About the Iona Institute
On its About Us page, the Iona Institute website says: The Iona Institute promotes the place of marriage and religion in society. We defend the continued existence of publicly-funded denominational schools. We also promote freedom of conscience and religion.
The Iona Institute website states that: The Iona Institute is a private company limited by guarantee. The company number is 424940. The charity number is 17347.
The Company Number 424940 is a company registered as Lolek Limited, with its address being The Iona Institute, 23 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.
Objects of Lolek Limited
The objects of the Company are listed in its Memorandum of Association.
1. The name of the Company is Lolek Limited.
2. The main object for which the Company is established is: The advancement and promotion of the Christian religion, its social and moral values, and the doing of all such other things as are incidental or conducive to the attainment of that object.
3. The following objects set out hereafter are exclusively subsidiary and ancillary to the main object set out above and these objects are to be used only for the attainment of that main object and any income generated therefrom is to be applied to the main object only.
There follows a list of subsidiary objects, such as fundraising, purchasing property, borrowing money etc, and ending with a general subsidiary object of doing all such things as are incidental or conducive to the attainment of the main objects of the Company.
Charitable tax exemption
The conditions attaching to charitable tax exemption include:
The body concerned is engaged in an activity under either one or more of the following headings: – Relief of Poverty; Advancement of Education; Advancement of Religion; Other works of a charitable nature beneficial to the community.
The body must ensure that its objects and powers are so framed that every object to which its income or property can be applied is charitable.
The income and property of the charity must be applied solely towards the promotion of its main charitable object as set out in its Governing Instrument.