The Iris O’Brien Foundation in Ireland made donations of €5.5 million last year, up from €4.4 million the previous year.
The Foundation is funded by Denis O’Brien, 59, one of Ireland’s richest men, who has made a fortune in the telecom business and a host of other investments.
Last year’s total grant giving is more than double the figure for 2014 when €2.7 million was awarded to charities. The Foundation has had a number of ‘restricted’ grant recipients but the accounts for last year show that restricted donations are down from €972,000 in 2015 to under €200,000 in 2016.
In notes to the accounts Mr O’Brien makes a continued commitment to existing projects worth €2 million.
The Foundation, set up in 2000, has continued the practice of splitting its giving between local and overseas charities. In 2016 €2.3 million was given overseas and €3 million to domestic causes. This is roughly the same ratio as in the previous year.
The Foundation, which shares an address with Mr O’Brien’s headquarters in Ireland at Grand Canal Quay, has very low overheads which in 2016 totalled just €5,400.
O’Brien set up the Foundation, named after his mother, in 2000 to identify and assist projects in Ireland and internationally and support disadvantaged communities. The foundation promotes human rights, helps people affected by disasters, supports people with a mental or physical disability, educational causes and promotes art.
Mr O’Brien is also patron of the Digicel Foundation, which was started in 2004 to support projects in Jamaica, Haiti and Papua New Guinea. Between April 2016 and June 2016, O’Brien and Digicel donated between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation to support its mission, something which drew criticism from the Trump campaign during the American presidential election.
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