Well, well, well. I now have another subject for my The Problem(s) With… series of posts. The last series (and it’s not finished yet, I still have another one to finish off) dealt with Youth Defence, their lies, and their extremism with respect to the abortion debate that has been going on since their formation in 1992.
However, this post deals with what may be considered a less extreme group, The Pro Life Campaign, but a group that seems to want some things kept out of the public eye nonetheless.
The PLC is the group that organised a recent demonstration in Dublin where somewhere between 15,000 and 50,000 (depending on what report you read) turned up at Merrion Square. Its primary spokespeople are Cora Sherlock and Caroline Simons. While I have never had the opportunity to chat to Caroline, I often discuss abortion legislation issues with Cora on Twitter. (I should mention that Ms Sherlock has accepted an invitation to write a guest post on this blog, and that post will be published when ready and in due course).
During a conversation about abortion, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) commented on Irish law surrounding abortion, which Cora felt was inappropriate:
At one stage I pointed out that the Pro Life Campaign was also a business, according to the Companies Registration Office. Cora stated that the PLC does not make a profit, unlike the BPAS; as such, BPAS are not allowed to “influence” Irish abortion law.
Cora, the representative of the Pro Life Campaign, also stated that BPAS shouldn’t comment on Irish domestic law because they are a foreign group. Whether you do or do not taste the delicious irony in that, I’ll address that particular point in a moment or two.
Here’s the issue:
Cora stated that her group is a registered charity, and that’s why they’re allowed to comment on Irish abortion law. How and ever, even a cursory glance at their website shows that the Pro Life Campaign does not state their charitable status online, as is commonplace for any charity (usually near the bottom of the page, next to the contact details), and a further exploration of their website also does not show the details.
While chatting to Cora on Twitter, I asked her to give me the organisation’s charity number (labelled as CHY). This request was ignored. A friend of mine also asked her for the same, as he I think he wished to calculate tax deductible stuff or something (I don’t know about that end of things). But again, the request was ignored.
After two requests at that point the Pro Life Campaign’s charity number was not put forward, so I tweeted Caroline Simons (and also included Cora) and asked for a CHY number. As of the wee hours of June 21, I have had no reply from Caroline.
However, I managed to get hold of a list of organisations that actually are registered as charities. Guess what: the Pro Life Campaign is not one of them. The list is valid as of mid-June 2013, and the Pro Life Campaign is not on the list.
So now we have the issue of a respected representative of the PLC stating that the organisation is a registered charity, where, in fact, they seem to be anything but.
Companies Registration Office
Cora Sherlock appears to dislike groups that get paid for providing medical services. This is where she distinguished the Pro Life Campaign from the BPAS. Cora’s statement was this:
I pointed out that the PLC was a registered business with the Companies Registration Office. Here, I will give Cora and the PLC the benefit of the doubt and assume she meant company. (Business names and companies are two different things in Ireland).
But, there are actual “pro-life” companies who operate here in Ireland.
I asked Cora what she thought of the Pro Life Institute Ltd (director is Niamh Ui Bhrian, office at 60a Capel Street) or of the Pro Life Movement (director is Angela Keaveney, at 26 Mountjoy Square); after all, they are limited companies: surely the Pro Life Campaign should be voicing their opposition to them as well as to the pro-choice PBAS, right? Unless, of course, the anti-choice rule of being against businesses only applies when said business is also anti-choice, but not when the business operates from a pro-choice stance.
When I asked about Pro Life Institute Ltd and Pro Life Movement, I was again met with silence.
It’s worth noting, too, that the Pro Life Campaign is a trading name for a company called VIE Ltd. That’s right, a spokesperson for a group who appears to be abhorrent towards businesses speaking out about abortion is a director of a limited company herself. Cora Sherlock is, among others, a director of VIE Ltd (and has been for over nine years), a company that operates the trading name Pro Life Campaign. I should mention that, to the best of my knowledge, pretty much anyone in the country can obtain a trading name for around the €20-or-so mark.
But wait, what about United States’ Groups?
Yes, BPAS is foreign, in case you were still wondering. As mentioned above, it’s the British Pregnancy Advisory Service. Yet, Sherlock & Pals don’t seem to care about where the company/organisation is from, despite what they say. If the PLC is to complain about PBAS commenting on Irish law while being a foreign company, then surely they should also be getting up in arms about a certain group called Life House Ireland?
Life House Ireland is an American group that bases its “pro-life” foundation on the Irish model. As such, they are devoted to ensuring that Ireland remains abortion-free. But still, I don’t hear any member of PLC speaking out against them.
Disclaimers and Things
Throughout conversation I asked that the Pro Life Campaign respond to what I said. They declined to do so in pretty much all cases, and that is how I arrived at the above.
If someone from the PLC could answer the simple questions I asked, I will be more than happy to update this post with the relevant information.
UPDATE 21/6/13: I have been contacted by Cora Sherlock who has stated that the Pro Life Campaign are not a registered a charity after all, but a “political organisation”. Pretty big mistake to make, if you ask me, especially when made by someone who was a director of the company for nearly nine and a half years.