A new anti-lockdown group has been launched by former members of Renua. The Irish Council for Human Rights (ICHR) was founded by siblings Tracey and Neil O’Mahony. Ms. O’Mahony, who is a qualified barrister, has a become a figurehead for the far right and anti-mask activists in recent months.
According to the ICHR website, the group plans on launching a legal challenge against the government’s lockdown legislation. Ms. O’Mahony had previously raised over €60,000 to fund the mooted anti-lockdown group. She has now set a new target of €250,000 to be raised in order to initiate legal proceedings.
Fundraising and exemptions
The group was registered with the Companies Registration Office (CRO) on 30 November. According to the CRO, the ICHR is registered as a limited by guarantee company with offices in The Black Church in Dublin. Ms. O’Mahony is registered as the company’s director and secretary. Her brother Neil is also listed as a director.
Ms. O’Mahony, who was previously a member of Renua, has garnered substantial support in recent months from far-right and anti-mask activists in Ireland. In late 2019 she helped to organise a number of “free speech” rallies around the country. The rallies were organised to protest against the proposed updating of Ireland’s hate speech laws. And they were primarily attended by known far-right activists and parties.
She also appeared alongside far-right activists Gemma O’Doherty and John Waters at one such rally in February this year. She warned those present about hate speech laws saying they were about taking away people’s freedom:
There will be some day not that far into the future and all of our freedoms will be gone. We will not be able to criticise anything. We will not be able to criticise people that we disagree with. Biology, government policy, immigration; no matter what it is we will not be able to criticise it. We will have lost all of our freedoms without realising.
In August O’Mahony launched a GoFundMe campaign which she said would be used to oppose the lockdown legislation. Even though the initial target was €50,000 she quickly raised over €60,000 to challenge what was described on the GoFundMe page as “unjust interference with our human rights”.
But in the last few days the target for the fundraiser has been changed to €250,000. According to the ICHR website, this is because the group intends on proceeding with a “right to work legal challenge” against the government. It’s revealed that this will involve “senior counsel, junior counsel, a firm of solicitors and several expert witnesses”.
The group has also called for people who wish to be listed as plaintiffs in the case to contact them.
On its website the ICHR says “the erosion of our most basic fundamental freedoms” has taken place in 2020. And that it intends on “defending and promoting the rights that already exist” by opposing anti-COVID measures.
People visiting the ICHR website can also download various “exemption forms”. One such form is addressed to schools which the group claims exempts children from wearing face masks. Other forms purport to exempt people from wearing face masks on public transport and in shops.
Traditional Catholics and COVID deniers
On the organisation’s website a number of other well-known far-right and anti-lockdown activists are noted as members on the board of advisors. Included in this is Gerard Martin Byrne, a barrister and member of the Dublin Law Library.
Byrne has publicly claimed that the pandemic has been “absolutely absurdly exaggerated”. He’s argued in relation to the pandemic legislation that “There is something very wrong in our country”. The barrister also insisted that there’s “a drive towards vaccination for everybody” and that this is “not a good sign”.
In recent days Byrne has used his Twitter account to criticise social media companies for tackling hate speech directed at minorities. He said that the companies will do nothing to tackle “hate speech against white people and even men”.
During an interview alongside Irish Freedom Party (IFP) chair Dolores Cahill last month, he insisted that lockdown measures are “a disproportionate interference with our fundamental rights and freedoms”. Byrne is also legal counsel for the Cahill-led World Doctors’ Alliance, an anti-lockdown group with members spread across the world.
Also listed on the ICHR’s board of advisors are Dr. Fiona Flanagan and Dr. Pat Morrissey.
On Twitter, Flanagan, who’s an economist by training, describes herself as a traditional Catholic and as pro-life. She’s argued there’s “absolutely no robust scientific evidence” that lockdown measures affect the spread of COVID. Flanagan has suggested that illnesses caused by electromagnetic interference could be mistaken for COVID symptoms.
Morrissey, who is a registered GP, has also attacked the idea of lockdowns as well as downplaying the risks posed by COVID-19. After speaking at an anti-lockdown rally in October he was removed from his position on the board of Shannondoc, an out-of-hours GP service.
During the rally he told attendees that he prescribed hydroxychloroquine to patients infected with COVID-19. Earlier this year the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned against its use as a treatment for the virus. It cautioned that the drug can cause organ damage, including “serious heart problems”.
According to documents obtained by The Beacon Ms. O’Mahony’s brother Neil is also listed as a director of the ICHR.
Mr. O’Mahony, a former member of the Irish Defence Forces, was previously a member of Renua. He ran as a candidate for the party in the 2019 local elections in the Galway City East constituency. Mr. O’Mahony was also chair of the party and a member of its national board until he resigned from the party in September 2019.
He made headlines when he stated that young children would be taught about masturbation if sex education was updated in Irish schools. His claims were roundly debunked at the time by the Journal.
In recent months Mr. O’Mahony has questioned the legitimacy of the pandemic and the lockdown measures. On Twitter he wrote that encouraging the wearing of masks is “about control and compliance” and “not reducing infection”. He’s also described the COVID figures as “bloated” and that lockdown measures are causing “an unprecedented loss of freedom all across the west”.
Due to lockdown measures introduced in October Ireland currently has the lowest rates of COVID-19 in the EU.
Fundraise and influence
The group also lodged a constitution with the CRO in which it again describes itself as a company and details its objectives. It’s written that the ICHR will “defend and promote human rights and civil liberties in Ireland”. What’s more, it intends to “influence decision-making” in these areas. And that it’ll “monitor” them and “inform public opinion” on these same matters.
Also mentioned in the constitution is how the group will finance itself. The ICHR notes it’ll “gather donations and sell goods in order to finance the activity and objective of the company”. Going further, the document points out that the ICHR will:
engage in any business, which may seem to the Company capable of being conveniently carried on in connection with the above main object or calculated directly or indirectly to enhance the value of or render profitable any of the Company’s property, rights, or interests.
This is on top of the GoFundMe account that was set up by Ms. O’Mahony earlier this year. At the time of writing the GoFundMe has raised €77,327.
This article was updated on Friday 11 December to include information about the ICHR’s constitution which details its objectives and fundraising and financial plans.
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