Civil society organisations such as the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and Amnesty International play a vital role in promoting human rights . One of the chief ways they do this is by holding the government to account. They are also engaged in advocacy on issues within their respective mandates. In this way, civil society organisations play a key role in a functioning democracy, especially when it comes to political accountability. The recent controversy in relation to Amnesty Internationalís refusal to return a large donation it received from outside Ireland to support the campaign to repeal the Eight Amendment is a case in point. In the eyes of the public this issue and the abortion debate are conflated. This is a mistake as there are more fundamental issues at stake about the role and funding of civil society organisations in general.
The current legislative framework needs to be reformed. We have a very active and diverse civil society sector, and like Irelandís non-governmental organisations, these have served us well.