Youth Defence is an Irish organisation that opposes legalisation of abortion. It was founded during the 1986 divorce referendum. It shared offices with the Eurosceptic group Cóir, but is not openly aligned to any specific political party. Its chairman is Dr. Eoghan De Faoite, a 2009 medical graduate of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
- 1 Foundation and overview
- 2 Neo-nazi links
- 3 Campaigns
- 3.1 Picketing
- 3.2 2012 anti-abortion campaign
- 3.3 2013 Billboard parked outside Rape Crisis Centre
- 3.4 Website hacking incident
- 3.5 2016 March for Choice infiltration
- 3.6 Citizens Assembly
- 4 Funding
- 5 See also
- 6 External links
- 7 References
Foundation and overview
Youth Defence was founded during the 1986 divorce referendum to campaign against the legalisation of divorce. Niamh Nic Mhathúna was one of the spokespeople. They had sixty members, most of whom were children of Family Rights Council members. There is not much activity from the group after that referendum.
However, during the X Case in 1992, Youth Defence reemerged, campaigning against abortion. They claimed to be newly founded by Niamh Nic Mhathúna as well as six other anti-abortion activists including Peter Scully (who co-founded Family & Life in 1996), Úna Bean Nic Mhathúna and Una's husband Séamus Mac Mathúna.
According to the CRO, Youth Defence is a registered business name, which means the organisation does not need to file annual accounts.
The National Library of Ireland describes Youth Defence as "a pro-life organisation and lobby group with strong neo-Nazi links". Far-right Irish nationalist Justin Barrett is a former PRO and leader of the group. During the 2002 Second Treaty of Nice referendum it was revealed that Justin Barrett had attended and spoken at neo-nazi party events in Germany and Italy. He initially denied the charges, and threatened newspapers with libel suits, but later conceded that he at spoken at those events. Youth Defence denied this, calling it a "media smear campaign". The Pro Life Campaign, another Irish anti-abortion group, strongly criticised Barrett for taking part in these events.
No amount of evasion or spin on Mr Barrett's part can explain away the seriousness of attending such conferences. It is nonsense to contend that speaking at a neo-fascist rally somehow serves the interest of building a more caring pro-life culture or the broader human rights agenda, which he claims to espouse. The groups with which Mr Barrett and Youth Defence are reported to be associated have an agenda of social exclusion and political extremism— John Smyth, Pro Life Campaign spokesman
British far-right groups
German far-right groups
Mr Barrett has spoken at events organised by the neo-nazi National Democratic Party of Germany several times, and been the guest of honour at a NPD rally in Passau, Germany in 2000, in which anti-semitic speeches, peppered with quotes from Adolf Hitler were given, alongside claims that "Germany was the biggest victim of the second World War". Hundreds of skinheads gave standing ovations to elderly Nazis.  The NPD confirmed that they have been in contact with Youth Defence for at least 6 years before.
Justin Barrett was an honorary guest at our event in Passau. I invited him. He sat with the delegates. We have been in contact with his group since 1996. We are friendly with his Youth Defence organisation.— Holger Apfel, then deputy leader of the NPD
He attended two conferences, in October 1999 and 2000, organised by the youth wing of the NDP, the JN, alongside famous American white nationalist William Luther Pierce. The JN has spoken about how Youth Defence were an important part of their network.
Of particular attraction was the participation of... the leader of the National Alliance from the USA, Dr William Pierce and, last but not least, the leader of a noteworthy Irish anti-abortion group, Justin Barret (sic) from Youth Defense (sic).— Young National Democrats (JN) report on the 1999 conference
A leading far-right politician in Germany has described the anti-abortion group Youth Defence as "an important part of our international network". Youth Defence is the backbone of the No to Nice Campaign, whose chief spokesman is Mr Justin Barrett. ... Mr Sascha Rossmüller, leader of the Young National Democrats (JN), youth wing of the extremist National Democratic Party (NPD), told The Irish Times: "share many important interests." The German authorities say the JN began to take on neo-nazi characteristics in 1996.
Italian far-right groups
The Forza Nuova website, in June 2001, reported that Justin Barrett had attended many Forza Nuova events in Italy (in Milan, and Bologna). He attended and spoke at a Forza Nuova meeting in Milan in November 2002. Barrett shared a platform with Roberto Fiore at a rally of flag-waving Italian fascists at the Hotel Miramar on 20 and 21 July 2001 in the Italian city of Civitanova. At the rally, Barrett was joined by Mario Di Giovanni, Youth Defence's representative in Italy. A group of Forza Nuova students, led by the then 25-year-old Marco Gladi, visited Ireland in 2001 to 'study' with Youth Defence. In an editorial on the Forza Nuova website, the movement calls itself a "friend" of Mr Barrett and praises his efforts to defeat the Nice Treaty.   
As part of the dirty war waged by "liberals" against "nationals", the greatest exponent of the nationalist front Justin Barrett, he was attacked in a press campaign of the kind to which we were accustomed us in the past. FN and NPD are, in the mind of the accusers, friends whose Barrett should be ashamed— Forza Nuova website in October 2002
1997 Picket of Róisín Shortall's house
In 1997 Youth Defence picketed the home of then Labour TD Róisín Shortall. This terrified her neighbours, especially the graphic placards. Although there were no arrests, the Gardai took protestors names. Róisín Shortall was chairwoman of the Eastern Health Board, and the protest was due to the then current C Case.
1999 Picket of Bertie Ahern's house
1996/7 Picket of Michael Noonan's house
In November 1996, up to 50 members of Youth Defence picketed the home of Minister for Health Michael Noonan in Limerick. Six arrests were made over the content of posters at a follow on protest in Limerick. A picket in January 1997 passed off peacefully, among heavy Garda presence. Fianna Fáil politician Máire Geoghegan-Quinn criticised the picketing of Minister Noonan's house.
1999 Irish Family Planning Association picket
In March 1999 Youth Defence picketed a clinic of the Irish Family Planning Association on Cathal Brugha Street. The IFPA got a High Court order restraining Youth Defence from picketting its offices or intimidating its employees or customers. Youth Defence did not appear in court Two members, Aoife and Ciara Ni Aodhan, did not abide by the order and were fined £250 each. Youth Defence members eventually won a Supreme Court challenge to the order in 2004.
2012 anti-abortion campaign
In June 2012 Youth Defence began their "Abortion tears her life apart" campaign. This campaign consisted of billboard signs, posters, and many members of the group handing out flyers. The campaign was across many cities in Ireland.
Pro-choice users of the website Broadsheet.ie encouraged supporters to call upon advertising companies to pull the adverts, saying that the text used misinformation. Legal scholar and Labour Senator Ivana Bacik criticised Youth Defence's decision to show an 18-week-old aborted fetus on the billboard, "although 89 per cent of abortions take place before 13 weeks. The advertisements are grossly offensive." TheJournal.ie later alleged that Youth Defence had breached copyright terms and conditions in using an image of a woman depicted on the posters, by failing to print a disclaimer that the billboard showed a posed model.
On 6 December 2012, Youth Defence took part in a Vigil For Life organised by the Pro Life Campaign, outside Leinster House in Dublin that was attended by several thousand people, as well as Catholic bishops representing the Catholic Church in Ireland. They were protesting any change to Ireland's abortion law, after the death of Savita Halappanavar a few months earlier. They claimed the Irish government had made a "pro-life promise".
They were also involved in the National Vigil For Life organised by the Pro Life Campaign, which took part in July 2013. Official figures put the crowd at 15,000 to 20,000 people, with the organisers claiming 50,000. Youth Defence co-founder Íde Nic Mathúna spoke at the event.
2013 Billboard parked outside Rape Crisis Centre
On 27 June 2013, during the public debate on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, a Youth Defence billboard truck parked outside the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre with the anti-abortion slogan of "The abortion bill won't make women safer, it will just kill babies". A photo of the truck was posted to the Broadsheet.ie website, sparking outrage online. AdMobile, the billboard company, said that the driver was taking a photograph of the truck as required by contract and was unaware of the proximity of the Rape Crisis Centre. AdMobile also said they would no longer run ads for Youth Defence. Youth Defence said at the time that they did not instruct the company to photograph the billboard outside the Rape Crisis Centre, and in July 2016 denied that it had happened.
Website hacking incident
On 9 July 2013, Youth Defence's website was hacked and replaced with a message detailing allegations relating to the group. At the same time, details from their subscriber list were also published, though they were later removed. No organization has claimed responsibility and a representative of Youth Defence has stated that complaints have been made to the Garda Síochána.
2016 March for Choice infiltration
On 24 September 2016, Youth Defence activists were filmed and photographed attempting to infiltrate the Abortion Rights Campaign's "March for Choice" event. The false flag photograph and sign was later used by the Life Institute on Twitter.
In 2016 the Irish government set up the Citizens' Assembly, a group of 99 citizens to discuss the Eighth Amendment, and then make recommendation to the government. This is similar to the 2012 Constitutional Convention.
Youth Defence were selected as one of the groups to present to the Citizens' Assembly They were represented by Rebecca Kiessling, an American anti-abortion campaigner. The majority of Kiessling’s presentation differed from the script she had submitted to the assembly in advance.
The Irish Times reported in March 2013 that the Standards in Public Office Commission has been attempting to investigate Youth Defense's sources of funding, but that the organisation has thus far refused to cooperate. By law, any organisation involved in political lobbying must declare all donations over €100, can only accept donations of up to €2,500, and cannot accept donations from overseas unless the donor is an Irish citizen or from a corporation that has offices in Ireland.
- "£200m bill?". Cork Examainer. 29 June 1986. p. 10.
according to Youth Defence a recently established organisation campaigning against divorce ... Niamh Nic Mhathuna, a spokesperson for Youth Defence
- de Bréadún, Deaglán (11 June 1992). "Anti-abortion campiagners are determined to slay the treaty". The Irish Times.
- Cummins, Mary (4 May 1992). "Mobilising youth as a weapon to crusade against abortion". The Irish Times. p. 16.
- "YD History 1992". Archived from the original on 1 June 2000. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
- Sheahan, Fionnan (28 May 2008). "Youth Defence is telling lies, says minister". Irish Independent.
- "Young Bloods: The Nic Mhathúna Sisters". The Phoenix (magazine). 27 July 2012.
- "I Was A Member Of Youth Defence". Hot Press. Vol. 16 no. 22. 18 November 1992.
The proposed chairperson of the local YD affiliate, Mr James Reynolds
- Grennan, Geraldine (16 October 1992). "Low-key abortion campaign so far". Longford Leader. p. 3.
locl "Youth Defence" activists, Hames Reynolds, from Loughill, Coolarty was not involved in Friday's demonstration
- "Company Details". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
- "Holdings: Youth Defence". Retrieved 17 February 2017.
- O'Sullivan, Roddy (22 June 1998). "Group claims fall in numbers of pro-abortion politicians". The Irish Times. p. 9. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
the organisation's PRO told an international conference ... Mr Justin Barrett told the conference
- "Corrections and Clarifications". The Irish Times. 17 April 1999. p. 16. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
Justin Barrett, PRO of Youth Defence
- "YD PRO denied entry to 'public' hearings: 9th May 2000". Youth Defence. 16 August 2000. Archived from the original on 16 August 2000.
the exclusion, by name, of the Public Relations Officer of Youth Defence, from the visitors' gallery, raises serious questions. In spite of having attended the hearings previously, Justin Barrett was refused admission today
- Millar, Scott (12 January 2010). "Irish far right groups remain on the margins of political life". Irish Examiner.
...former Youth Defence leader, Justin Barrett.
- Killilea, Gayle (7 October 2001). "The man wired to fight abortion". Independent.ie.
...Justin Barrett, Youth Defence's chief spokesman and mastermind.
- Hannon, Katie (16 May 2004). "Confessions of a Polcorr". Sunday Independent. p. 117.
Fianna Fail researchers also dug up information about the Youth Defence leader Justin Barrett"s trips to neo-Nazi events in Germany
- Sheehan, Aideen (21 August 2009). "Treaty opponent no stranger to politics". Irish Independent. p. 12.
Mr Reynolds has also strongly backed the pro-life cause, and he was closely associated with Youth Defence leader Justin Barrett
- "Benvenuti al sito ufficiale di Forzanuova" [Welcome to the official website of Forza Nuova] (in Italian). Archived from the original on 18 June 2001.
Justin Barret leader di Youth Defence, il movimento antiabortista irlandese, che e' stato presente di persona ripetutamente a convegni e manifestazioni di Forza Nuova (Milano, Bologna...).
- "YD outraged at media smear campaign". Youth Defence. 13 October 2002. Archived from the original on 3 November 2002.
Youth Defence said today that they were absolutely outraged by allegations in the Irish Times that they had any relationship whatsoever with any German right wing organisation. In a statement, the organisation categorically denied that they had any links with the NDP or its Youth wing ... Youth Defence are sick and tired of attempts to discredit the organisation by alleging links with various parties.
- Scully, Derek (12 October 2002). "'Neo-Nazis' affirm links with Youth Defence". The Irish Times. p. 9.
A leading far-right politician in Germany has described the anti-abortion group Youth Defence as "an important part of our international network". Youth Defence is the backbone of the No to Nice Campaign, whose chief spokesman is Mr Justin Barrett.
- "Frequently Asked Questions". The National Party. Archived from the original on 30 November 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- "Dublin hotel cancels launch of new extreme right-wing party which had been planned for tomorrow". TheJournal.ie. 16 November 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
a call was placed to pro-life organisation Youth Defence with whom he had previously worked. However the spokesperson who replied said they had never heard of Barrett, nor had had any dealings with him.
- "No. 4 : Youth Defence article in far-right Candour magazine (1993)". Spotlight on the Right. 17 October 2016.
- Ni Mhurchu, Cliona. "A Breath of Fresh Eire". Candour. Vol. 45 no. 9, 10 & 11.
- O'Donnell, Francis (29 September 2002). "Fascist Link of 'No to Nice' Chief". Sunday Mirror.
- "Sinister Shadows". Magill. 2002.
- O'Reilly, Bernardo. Undertones: Anti-fascism and the far right in Ireland 1945-2012. Anti-Fascist Action Ireland. p. 50.
- Scully, Derek (11 October 2002). "Far-right rally had welcome for Irish No activist". The Irish Times. p. 11.
Brown shirts and skinheads, elderly Nazi heroes with memories of the good old days... and Justin Barrett, honoured guest from Ireland. Derek Scally reports from Berlin on the German extreme right group and the No to Nice campaigner
- Humphreys, Joe (12 October 2002). "Barrett admits he attended far-right meeting". The Irish Times. p. 9.
Mr Barrett, who earlier this week declined to confirm or deny to The Irish Times his attendance at the meeting in the Bavarian city of Passau in May 2000, yesterday admitted he attended the conference, as well as an estimated two other events linked to the NPD.
- Scully, Derek (11 October 2002). "Extreme-right group confirms Barrett link". The Irish Times. p. 1.
Justin Barrett was an honorary guest at our event in Passau. I invited him. He sat with the delegates," said Mr Holger Apfel, the deputy leader of the NPD. "We have been in contact with his group since 1996. We are friendly with his Youth Defence organisation.
- "Barrett campaign to go full term despite poll". Irish Independent. 25 May 2004. p. 6.
Mr Barrett (33) became caught up in controversy during the Nice Treaty campaign when it was revealed that he had close contact with an extreme right-wing party in Germany. Authorities there believed the party displayed "Nazi characteristics""
- McKittrick, David (12 October 2002). "Irish 'no' spokesman tied to neo-Nazis". The Independent.
Justin Barrett, who fronts the "No to Nice Campaign," was said to have attended a fascist-style rally mounted by a party that German authorities believe has "Nazi characteristics".
- "Aborto: il genocidio del XX secolo 23/08/2000" (in Italian). 23 August 2000. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
- "Ex-Provo gives new life to Irish clerical fascism". Searchlight. August 2006. Archived from the original on 24 October 2006. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
Barrett and another Youth Defence founder, Niamh Nic Mhathuna, had attended conferences of Fiore’s neo-fascist Forza Nuova in Italy.
- "The Persuaders". Irish Independent. 12 October 2002. p. 31.
The Sunday Mirror reported last month that Justin Barrett had attended rallies of ulta-nationalist organisations in Germany and Italy
- de Bréadún, Deaglán (21 October 2002). "Business, the parties, FitzGerald and forum all played key roles". The Irish Times. p. 4.
The story originally surfaced in a Sunday Mirror report drawn from left-wing and anti-fascist sources. Despite a threat of legal action from Mr Barrett's solicitors, The Irish Times succeeded in confirming, without any assistance or prompting from Fianna Fáil, that he had indeed attended meetings of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) in Germany and Forza Nuova in Italy.
- "F.N.: Bollettino 04.07.2001" (in Italian). 5 July 2001.
Friday July 20 conference on The powers and freedoms of peoples at the Hotel D'Azeglio in Via Nazionale in Rome. Speakers Mario Di Giovanni, Gianni Correggiari, Giacinto Auriti, Roberto Fiore. Confirmed the participation of Justin Barrett, Secretary of the Irish Youth Defence and main promoter of the victorious initiatives for NO the referendum on the Nice Treaty. Beginning at 15:00. Saturday, July 21 at 17:30 at the Hotel Miramare Civitanova Marche (MC) held 'a lecture entitled "Survey on globalism and the powers that be. Speakers: Mario Di Giovanni, Justin Barrett (Youth Defence) Gianni Correggiari
- "Forza Nuova homepage" (in Italian). Archived from the original on 16 October 2002.
- "Residents terrified by Youth Defence protest". Irish Independent. 5 December 1997. p. 13. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
- Coulter, Carol (5 December 1997). "Youth Defence plans more protests". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
- Sheehan, Aideen (18 September 1999). "Anti-abortion group picket Ahern's home". Irish Independent. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
- "Anti abortion protesters arrested". The Irish Times. 18 November 1996.
- Cleary, Catherine. "Paris model addresses anti abortion rally". The Irish Times. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
The Youth Defence organised rally also picketed the home of, Minister for Health, Mr Noonan. There was a strong Garda presence but the demonstration passed off peacefully
- Purcell, Tony (27 January 1997). "Pro-life protesters faced with strong garda presence". Irish Independent.
There was a strong garda presence whern anti-abortion campiagners pickets the home of Minister for Health Micheal Noonan TD in Limberick on Saturday afternoon
- "Geoghegan Quinn's parting shot at Government on haemophiliacs". The Irish Times. 30 January 1997. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
However, to remarks of "hear, hear" from her colleagues, she criticised the picket of the Minister's home by members of Youth Defence
- "Court orders Youth Defence to keep away from family planning clinics and staff". The Irish Times. 12 March 1999. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
- "Anti-abortion protesters fined £250 for causing obstruction at clinic". The Irish Times. 6 July 2000. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
- "Youth Defence appeal upheld by court". The Irish Times. 5 February 2004. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
- "Youth Defence members win Supreme Court appeal". The Irish Times. 4 February 2004. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
- "Youth Defence". Youthdefence.ie. 2012-06-18. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- "Have You Got A Minute?". Broadsheet.ie. 2012-06-20. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- "Senator's criticism of abortion ads an 'odious abuse of taxpayer-funded privilege'". The Journal. Dublin. 28 June 2012.
- "Youth Defence under investigation over use of image in anti-abortion campaign". thejournal.ie. 2012-07-27. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
- "Thousands attend "Vigil for life" at Leinster House". RTÉ News. 6 December 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
- Keenan, Dan (8 June 2013). "Thousands attend Dublin abortion rally". The Irish Times.
Official estimates put the crowd at between 15,000 and 20,000 although protest organisers claimed “a conservative figure of 50,000”
- "Billboard company discontinues Youth Defence campaign after Rape Crisis Centre incident". TheJournal.ie. 27 June 2013.
- "Youth Defence on Twitter: "@lochgarman1798 That's a lie. An old one and a vicious one."". Youth Defence. 25 July 2016. Archived from the original on 7 September 2016. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
In reply to "Remember when @YouthDefence parked their nasty billboard outside the rape crisis centre? #repealthe8th" the Youth Defence Twitter account replied "That's a lie. An old one and a vicious one."
- "Youth Defence website hacked". TheJournal.ie. 9 July 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
- Ó Caollaí, Éanna (9 July 2013). "Website of anti-abortion group Youth Defence hacked". Irish Times. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
- "Youth Defence's website has been hacked". Silicon Republic. 9 July 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
- Neylon, Michele (9 July 2013). "Youth Defence Site Hacked". technology.ie. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
- Janet O'Suillvan [Sharrow_ie] (24 September 2016). "Just spotted an anti photo shoot with a repeal jumper #arcmarch16 @repealproject #repealthe8th" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- lifeinstitute (27 September 2016). "For #RepealKills series we went to the March 4 Abortion to show #RealityOfRepeal. Their OWN poster (right) confirmed how extreme they are." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "Villager". 12 October 2016.
Fatima Gunning, an anti-abortion zealot, recently posed in a Repeal jumper with a banner designed to discredit her opponents, appealing implausibly for “abortion for terminally ill babies”.
- Dave Gorman [daithigorman] (24 September 2016). "So this woman in the repeal jumper is Fatima Gunning of Youth Defence/Life Institute. Absolutely despicable. #arcmarch16 #repealthe8th" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "A reply to Senator Mullen on #repealthe8th". 2 October 2016.
no mention of the Youth Defence gatecrashers with the ‘Abortion for terminally ill babies’ placard, wearing a Repeal jumper and attempting to usurp our message?
- Jim_Sheridan (11 December 2016). "I'm confused.. Is this the same girl who supports "abortion for terminally ill babies"? Weird mixed message from LoveBoth supporters?" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "17 Advocacy Groups to Address Citizens' Assembly on the Topic of Eighth Amendment". Citizens' Assembly. 21 February 2017.
- "Citizens Assembly hears from advocacy groups". Newstalk. 5 March 2017.
- "Anti-abortion groups ignored political watchdog queries". The Irish Times. Dublin. 2 March 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- McGreevy, Ronan (2 March 2013). "Anti-abortion groups ignored political watchdog queries". The Irish Times. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
Third parties can only accept donations of up to €2,500, and cannot accept donations from overseas unless the donor is an Irish citizen or from a corporation that has offices in Ireland