Freedom Institute

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The Freedom Institute is a free-market classical-liberal think tank based in the Republic of Ireland which was founded in early 2003. It is a member of the Stockholm Network


The organization cites Edmund Burke, Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman as inspirations. It defines its four main principles as:

  • free enterprise as the most just and effective route to prosperity
  • individual responsibility and voluntary solutions to solve social problems
  • limited, accountable and honest government, carried out as much as possible in the public interest, free from manipulation by special interests
  • defending freedom worldwide through foreign policy based on an effective response to tyranny and terrorism together with action to bring human rights and democracy to those denied them

In its reports[1], the Freedom Institute favours lowering taxation, reducing the powers of government, free trade, civil partnerships for homosexual couples, the War on Terror and unrestricted economic migration. It is opposed to the minimum wage, compulsory teaching of the Irish language and the smoking ban in Ireland's pubs.


The Institute was founded in Ireland by people from a range of backgrounds, mainly financial, legal and media professionals, third-level students and academics. It is active in third-level institutions, with members in Trinity College Dublin, Waterford Institute of Technology and University College Dublin as well as an officially-recognized student society in University College Cork.

The FI claims to be Ireland's fastest growing policy group, citing the doubling in its number of spokespersons (to over 25) and the quadrupling of membership (approximately 170 active members, according to its annual report for 2004). The organisation claims that each of these members is expected to fulfil a role.

Organisational Structure

The Institute has five coordinators who oversee the day-to-day activities. Policy is subdivided into six research areas:


The Freedom Institute's activities include a policy weblog[1], policy reports, lobbying of Oireachtas members and policy-makers in other countries, media appearances, as well as involvement in various single-issue campaigns. It has also conducted a poll[2] of health service consumers in association with Lansdowne Market Research.

It has published over 40 reports, authored by 13 spokespersons.

Welcoming Bush

While the Irish republic has undoubtedly benefited from US foreign direct investment it is also clear that the vast majority of the electorate do not wish to partner with the neo-conservative Bush administration on political and security matters, a point obliquely acknowledged by a newly founded neo-liberal think tank in Ireland, the Freedom Institute, in a letter to the Irish Times on 26 June:
'As a member of a small proportion of Irish society that sees the inherent danger of radical Islam, I wish to convey the warmest welcome to the American President. Few people in the West are prepared to acknowledge the patently obvious threat to our (not just the American) way of life, though many Eastern European leaders are all too aware of the importance of liberty.
George Bush is a man of principle and relentless courage in the face of barbarity - both on American soil, and around the world. He is a man of deep faith, both in God and family. So many Europeans sneer at his, and most Americans', faith in God, yet we have much to learn in our increasingly amoral, anti-family welfare states. Self-sufficiency is the way forward, yet few in Europe's ageing population have the will to appreciate this.
Mr Bush believes, like too few other world leaders, that a person's success and wealth is something they deserve. His tax cuts (like Reagan's and John F. Kennedy's before him) have been an essential component in catalysing growth in the US economy - that economy on which we in Ireland greatly depend. His economic ideals are therefore not only morally sound, but pragmatically prudent.
We at the Freedom Institute - a new Irish organisation advocating free markets and limited government - welcome Mr Bush, and wish him well in November's election. - Yours, etc.,
John Lalor, (Freedom Institute Spokesman on Economics), Terenure, Dublin 6W'.
The Freedom Institute is a neo-liberal forum with links to the Atlas Economic Research Institute. Their mission is largely one of advocacy in public debate: 'In conjunction with many other think tanks throughout the world, we will not shy from our responsibility to create a safer, stronger, freer and more prosperous Ireland'. They ventilate the views of 'skeptical environmentalist' Bjorn Lomborg on global warming, advocate trade liberalisation (not aid or state intervention) and oppose socially progressive measures like the popular the ban on smoking in public places (perhaps the most significant piece of public health legislation to be enacted in the last 20 years in Ireland). The emergence of the Freedom Institute in Ireland parallels the 'spontaneous' growth of similar organisations throughout Europe, whose aims are to promote neo-liberal policies, particularly deregulation and trade liberalisation. That such groups and their aims are completely out of step with public opinion and popular sentiment makes their 'growth' all the more remarkable.[3]

Organisational Links

The FI does not endorse any political party or politician, but has built links with other think tanks, notably Tech Central Station, the US-based policy group which recently opened an office in Brussels, the Globalization Institute based in London and others. To date, these links have produced exchanges of personnel, ideas, and collaborations on specific policy outputs.

In mid-2005, the FI launched the Freedom Institute UK, its first overseas branch, with members in London and Cambridge.


The Freedom Institute or its members have appeared in media outlets such as the Sunday Times,[4], Tech Central Station [5][6], the Daily Star[7], the Jerusalem Post[8], the Irish Times[9], and Magill magazine [10] and Sunday Business Post.

Freedom Institute members have spoken by invitation in UCD, TCD, UCC and are occasional contributors to media programs such as RTÉ Television's the Big Bite[11], BBC Radio 5 and Newstalk 106 FM's talk shows.


Peter Nolan[2]

See also

External links


  1. Freedom Institute Reports
  2. Peter Nolan, It's the Islamism, stupid, Prospect, 22-July-2006, Accessed 29-June-2010