The Iona Institute, Part II, Patrons and Directors

Part II of my documentary series about the Iona Institute.

The Iona Institute, Partons and Directors.

Show Notes:

V Amendments to Part I:

Tax brackets don’t work that way. You pay 20% on the first €23,300, 40% on the rest. So if I earned €24,000, I’d pay 20% on €23,300 and 40% on €700. It’s not the case, as commonly believed, that once I go into a higher tax bracket.

So then, welcome to Part II of our look into the world of The Iona Institute
On May 22, so just over a month ago, two new documents were submitted by Lolek Ltd to the authorities: Account Details and B1 Annual Return for 2018,

Couple of interesting things to note:

Number 1, the Annual Return document doesn’t actually have their annual return it just lists the directors, of which there are many, in the previous podcast the Annual Return only named 4:

Tom Ascough, Sean Ascough, John Murray and Mark Hamilton, while this year we now have 7 Directors: Mark Hamilton, John Murray, Sean Ascough, Tom Ascough, Johnson Eanna, Clare Clifford, Brendan Conroy & Evana Boyle. No mention of David Quinn, his title is Director of The Iona Institute, but he’s not a director in a business sense ya get me.

The contact email has changed from that of David Quinn to that of a Mr Brian Brooks. Who I’ve looked into and there’s literally nothing of this man on the internet at all…there are plenty of Brian Brooks but there’s zilch on the internet that ties the many different Brian Brooks around the world to Iona. So, moving on…

So, in Part I, I went into detail about how Iona raise money, their charity status, some about the people involved and we saw too that for the year ending 2017 they’d make a loss of just over 2000, paying out almost 100,000 euros to just two employees.

In their latest Account Details we can see that for 2018 they made a massive loss of €56,499. We can put this loss down to Ireland having two referenda (you can also say referendums if you’re a complete muppet). One on abortion rights and the other on blasphemy.

The Iona Institute campaigned for a No vote for the abortion referendum.

Between the two documents there are some discrepancies. In the Annual Return document it lists 7 Directors named earlier, however, in the Account Details document, only five are: Sean and Tom Ascough, John Murray, Mark Hamilton and new member Eanna Johnson. Who is probably the same person as Johnson Eanna as he’s named in the Annual Return document. Can’t even get their own names correct. Wouldn’t exactly instil confidence were they a company you could buy shares in.

Anyway, today I want to speak about the people behind the names. What’s interesting for me anyway, is that David Quinn is often named as Director of The Iona Institute, however, in any of the documents I’ve sen submitted over the last few years he’s not named as anything. He’s not named at all. His email address was used as a contact email one some documents but has now been replaced by that of Brian Brooks, who I can’t find anything on at all, but sure y’know yourself, we all have a couple of different email address that we like to use for certain things. Understandable.

When I think of The Iona Institute I certainly think of David Quinn, Breda O’Brien and Maria Steen would also come to mind. There’s also Professor Patricia Casey, Fr. Vincent Twomey. Anglican Bishop Ken Clarke is also a patron. Dr. James Sheehan who founded the Blackrock and Galway clinics is there too and Dr. Angelo Bottone is the research officer. I would presume he’s in charge of writing or at least commissioning all the research papers on the Iona Institute website.

So, let’s have a look at this interesting band of patrons and directors. First up, Patrons!

We have to start with David Quinn

On the website it says: The Director of the Iona Institute is David Quinn

Well, that’s funny because it all of the documentation I’ve seen he’s not named as a director. He’s not even named as an employee. Then again they don’t have to name the employees. But, it’s probably like this, Director is a cool title for a person, even if he’s not actually a director as in a member of the Board of Directors. It’s a bit like President, the story goes that George Washington didn’t want a title like King or Emperor so they chose President because it didn’t really have the gravitas of something like King, time have obviously changed

Anyway, it says on the website:

David Quinn is a well known journalist who specialises in religious and social affairs. Currently he has columns in both The Sunday Times and The Irish Catholic. He frequently appears on radio and television programmes and also contributes to numerous magazines overseas. As Director, his main function is to represent the Institute publicly, and to run and coordinate its various projects and undertakings.

Does Wikipedia have anything to add?

Well, from 1996 to 2003, he was editor of The Irish Catholic, a newspaper you could get for free on the way out of mass on a Sunday. It uses include the bottom of the bird cages and the floor for when painting skirting boards. Sorry, I’m being mean there.

Anyway, The Irish Catholic is published by Grace Communications and get this, they have the exact same address as The Iona Institute, that’s mad huh? Same Merrion St address in Dublin. Funny.

Quinn wrote for the Irish Independent from 2003 to 2005 and now write for the The Sunday Times, which isn’t to be confused with The Irish Times, one is English, one is Irish, but Breda O’Brien does write for The Irish Times.

He’s also a member of Legatus ‘Ambassadors for Christ in the Marketplace’ according to their website. Now, I don’t want to get sidetracked but Legatus are basically a freemasons for conservative christians. Tom Monaghan set it up, he’s the dude behind Domino pizza, which now has a far different religious meaning if you think about it, but I hope nobody watching or listening buys Dominos, it’s awful pizza. But anyway, a few of the people spoken about in this episode are Legatus members. Some people make a shindig about it, but really, it’s just a club of Christian businessmen and women who hang out and help each other out business wise, it’s no different from all the other 1000s of business clubs around the world that do similar things, this one however makes you go to mass when they get together.

There’s not much else interesting about Quinn, he’s now pretty much a contrarian journalist, hired by the Sunday Times to annoy its readership and get more clicks. Kevin Meyers was the same y’know, it’s just pissed off middle class men who think their unqualified opinions matter. And that’s something to keep in mind here, David Quinn isn’t a religious professional like a priest or a monk, he’s a journalist. Breda O’Brien is a teacher, Maria Steen is an architect and lawyer, although she doesn’t officially work. The actual priest and religious people who are named as patrons do little for Iona and rarely ever appear under the Iona title. That’s a bit strange.

On to Breda O’Brien: Breda O’Brien is a teacher and a columnist with The Irish Times. She is best known for her commentary on religious and social affairs.

That’s pretty much it, she’s a teacher with an opinion on many things to do with religion and social affairs. Something strange though, she’s a teacher but all her kids were homeschooled.


Other than that, fairly standard stuff, she’s a teacher, not a religious professional, she writes for the Irish Times, an opinion piece, anything from anti abortion articles to Leaving Cert topics. She probably wouldn’t be as contrarian as Quinn would be but the Irish Times readership would be fairly liberal so again, she’s there to ruffle some feathers. Of course she appears on tele and radio a fair amount under the Iona banner. Is she employed by them? No idea.

Maria Steen next, again, not a religious professional. She’s a qualified barrister who, Wikipedia says, hasn’t practiced since the birth of her children. If that’s true or not I don’t know. She doesn’t appear much in Irish media unless there’s a big referendum coming up. She’s probably my favourite of the Ionas, she’s incredibly smart, quick witted and a great speaker. But y’know, she’s a barrister, that’s all the things she supposed to be. Convincing too, she’ll have you agreeing with her before you even know it. Ben Shapiro has the same knack, he’s coming out with god-awful conservative huff and you’re nodding away until a minute later you’re going wtf is wrong with me for agreeing with this nonsense. Anyway, some accuss Iona of putting out the eye candy when Maria Steen comes on tele and well, tbh, yes, she’s a very attractive lady in fairness. I doubt though she makes television appearances for that reason, she’s very good at debating, I reckon that’s why.

Who’s next on the list: Fr Vincent Twomey

Fr. Twomey seems to be a decent enough skin in fairness. He’s the first proper religious professional at least. The rest are journalists, teachers, homemakers and the odd engineer. Anyway. Twomey wins points from me because he’s been so critical of the Irish Catholic Church regarding its treatment of sexual abuse victims, its handling of controversaries and its inaction regarding guilty parties. Sure, look, a priest saying those things and asking for people to be held responsible is only a good thing. If more priests were like that then a hell of a lot more abuse could’ve been stopped a long time ago. Anyway, we can’t change the past and the Irish Catholic Church has only got itself to blame. He fuckin hates atheists though, check this out:

Yea, sorry Vincent my auld chum, you lose points from me there. Blaming atheism for the Nazis and Marxism just shows a complete lack of understanding for history. But hey, at least you stand up for abuse victims.

God, this list is long:

Ken Clark is up next: Details are scarce on Bishop Ken here, he was head bottle washer of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh from 2001 until 2012. Then he was Director of SAMS (South American Mission Society).

And is involved with New Wine Ireland, a religious group to connect Churches and make Ireland better, nothing to do with wine though, the name comes from a Bible passage:

New Wine Ireland is a movement of churches working together to change the island of Ireland through a network of church leaders, our summer conference and training events.

New Wine Ireland is about an understanding that God is doing a new thing, involving the outpouring of His Holy Spirit.

‘And no one pours new wine into old wineskins.  Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.’

(Luke 5:37-38 NIV)

Professor Patrica Casey is next up, she’s not really done much for them lately, but she was pretty prominent in the early days. She’s a  psychiatrist and journalist, again, not a religious professional, has written for The Irish Independent. She is Professor of Psychiatry at University College Dublin and consultant psychiatrist at the Mater Hospital Dublin too. A busy lady.

Something strange though, she takes available research and twists it to fit her needs. For example:

As the photo:

Who is left of the Patrons

Dr James Sheehan: founder of the Blackrock, Galway and Hermitage Clinics, all of which operate according to a Catholic ethos, so you probably wouldn’t go there for an abortion, or even condoms.

He’s written a book which costs 50 feckin dollars!

So, a doctor, not a religious professional again.


First up is Sean Ascough

He comes from Co. Wicklow, is an engineer and businessman and is a director of 7 other companies. Now, here’s where it get weird for me.

The first company is called Ascough Design Company. Here’s the company details, address, been going for 18 years, it’s principal activities:Architectural and Engineering Activities and Related Technical Consultancy and then at the bottom, it says it can also trade as Ascough Motorhomes and Car-a-Van. None of the three of these businesses have websites.

Of course it’s not illegal to have multiple trading names associated with one company, if anything it makes good business sense, you can share the money around them and pay your tax that way

The next company he’s a director of is called Commissioning Management Limited, this one is involved in: Other Construction Work Involving Special Trades, whatever that means, but have a look below, it can trade as 12 other names and some of them are quite fun:




    The Passion

    The Passion of Christ

    Ascough Consulting Engineers

    Car-A-Van Motorhomes (pretty close to the Ascough Motorhomes and Car-a-Van earlier)




    Commissioning Management

    The Passion of the Christ

None of the names mentioned so far have a website connected with them, the odd one has a Yellow Pages page and a phone number.

And it’s a similar case with the rest of them, so I asked two accountants why companies do this, here’s their answers:

Nothing illegal, just a bit immoral but sure Jaysus in fairness all successful business is a bit immoral, you have to break some eggs to make profits y’know.

Next Bosco Vision Limited, no other trading names

Then we have THE NEW EVANGELISATION TRUST which also trades as Tnet, says in their website: Bringing donors and missionaries together for the New Evangelisation in Ireland. Our key aim as an organisation is to see that genuine Catholic Evangelisation Causes in Ireland will be adequately financed to realise their full potential. Our purpose is to bring donors and missionaries together for the New Evangelisation in Ireland.

There’s a website here:

There there’s, woah, one with an actual wesbite: CLONMACNOIS PUBLISHING LIMITED

Which sells only one book but has a video coming soon:

Next up is Tom Ascough:

Now, here’s where I have some struggles.

Look, I detest gutter journalism. I really do, I hate the way tabloid journalists cover celebrities and y’know search through their bins for scandal or like, if you’re Piers Morgan hack into the voicemails of people. Anyway, look the way I see it, these people run a company that has a direct influence over the daily lives of people in Ireland.

I have my own personal line that I don’t and won’t cross when investigating people so I hope you realise that I’m doing this with respect for people’s privacy and I’m only using what’s in the public domain for my research.

I could have gone down the road of innuendo and rumour, which is abundant on many Irish bloggers’ websites, but what I was here is only stuff that I can prove…so with that in mind, let’s have a look at how Tom Ascough is.

Like Sean, Tom directs a few other companies too, some of them the same, like Bosco Vision Limited and Ascough Design Limited, Commissioning Management Limited and SYMPHONY ENERGY CONTROLS LTD (the only one which doesn’t have a company number so I could check up on them. He’s also a director of Spirit Radio, an Irish Christian radio station which you can listen to now in FM and online too. My old mate Wendy Gace has a 10am morning show.

There’s one more called, this is a mouthful: FERTILITY CARE CENTRES OF EUROPE which according to was dissolved in 2018 so really it probably shouldn’t have been added.

Now the thing with Tom is that…here was my struggle and I got as much advice on this as I could, because he’s someone who is the director of a company I think we have a right to know a little bit about him, as with Sean Ascough too, they indirectly make a huge impact on people and the next bit I wasn’t sure about adding.

You see in 2017 Tom’s daughter was impeached as UCD Student Union President. Now, of course, normally I’d never look into a businessman’s daughter and his family life, but she hit the national headlines back then because, well, let’s take what the Irish Times wrote following her impeachment…

Then there’s Tom’s wife Jacki, now the reason I bring her into all this is because back in 2011, the both did a bizarre interview with a journalist called Brian O’Connell …so let’s have a gander at this.

Jacki though, I like Jacki, she is the Fertility Advisor at a company called Neofertility, they have a clinic in Sandyford in Dublin and they help women get pregant but not by IVF, so from my reading up on them, people who have tried IVF and it hasn’t worked go to them and they have a 50% success rate. I presume, it’s all about diet and lifestlye changes to help get pregnant. Y’know, some fella smokes 20 a day and drinks 6 beers and he wonders why his sperm count is low, change of lifestyle needed, IVF ain’t gonna help ya there. Same for women obviously.

Anyone one final thing on the Ascough, you can read about their building and energy solutions on

Right, we’re nearly there, only a few more to go:

Mark Hamilton, so Mark Hamilton is the principal of Rockbrook Park School, so yet another teacher. He’s head bottle washer at a private school. First here are the fees…secondly, doesn’t doesn’t sound like it’s much fun to attend.

First….and man, I didn’t want this to come up. Opus Dei. The internet is full of rumour and unprovable stuff about Iona patrons and directors being members of Opus Dei, but here we have it that the school Hamilton runs and the founding parents were ‘inspired by St Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei that tiny, very powerful sect within the Catholic faith.

Look, Opus Dei are weird, but they’re not that much different to Legatus really, they’re a secretative group of Christians who help each other out in their business and daily life. Opus Dei gets a bit of grief because of the use of corporal mortification, in other words beating yourself for your sins or to become closer to God. Some members do it, most don’t.

Check out this video:

So…ah man, I didn’t want to go into Opus Dei, they kind of weird me out, but there’s one provable link to at least one member. Other than that nothing much to report, he’s a school principal, he does some charity work in Belfast and Dublin so that’s cool, has written two books on social issues, but I couldn’t find any trace of them so must be out of print.

John Murray: John Murry is a Dublic City University (DCU) lecturer. Another teacher then.

He has the title of Chairman of The Iona Institute.

Here’s a video of him, he doesn’t want gay people to be able to parent children…now, now that’s not homophopic, we all know that the Iona Institute are not and never ever, ever, ever have been homophobic

This video 11:18: and 16:40 and 27:50

John teaches, we should call him Dr. apologies. Dr. John Murray teaches this and that in DCU….3 more to go!

Eanna Johnson:

Here’s what he does.


What is catechetics?

Well, it’s

the branch of theology that deals with the instruction given to Christians before baptism or confirmation.

    • religious teaching in general, especially that given to children in the Roman Catholic Church.


Use over time for: catechetics
Clare Clifford, yet another teacher and a member of Association of Catholic Teachers:

There’s very little on the internet about her, I found her Twitter profile (follows 9, has 8 followers) and some old comments and y’know, I’m better than that. People who leave comments on comments don’t really deserve much attention.

Brendan Conroy, husband of patron Breda O’Brien:

There’s not much about this lad at all, he’s been on Joe Duffy and some other RTE radio programmes from time to time. He writes letters to The Irish Times the odd time.

Evana Boyle is married to one of the Drs over at Neo Fertility, the place Jacki Ascough works:

She campaigned against marriage equality with Mothers and Fathers Matter in 2015. Not currently registered with the Law Library or Law Society.

here she is:

That it lads, I’m tired after reading all that and putting it together, fingers crossed now I’ve not pissed off anyone and I won’t be shanked next time I’m home in Ireland

Seriously though, I struggled with some parts and I wanted to only show what could be backed up with facts, I wanted to look into the Iona Institute and the people who represent it and the people who run it who we don’t know a lot about. Hopefully now you’ll know a little bit more about then.



Photo Links:

1a. David Quinn:
1a. Breda O’Brien:
1a. Maria Steen:
1. David Quinn:
1a. David Quinn Wiki:
2. Legatus
3. Breda O’Brien:
3a. Breda O’Brien:
4. Breda O’Brien Homeschool:
5. Vincent Twomey:
6. Vincent Twomey vs Athetist:
7. Ken Clarke
8. New Wine Ireland:
9. Patrici Casey:
10. Patricia Casey research:
11. James Sheehan:
12. James Sheehan’s book:
13. Sean Ascough:
13a Tom Ascough:
14: Ascough Design Limited:
15: 15 Sean Ascough, Commissioning Management Limited:
16: Whatsapp
17: Whatsapp
18a New Evangelisatation Trust:
19: Clonmacnois Press:
20: Clonmacnois Press:
21. Spirit Radio
21a: Fertility Care Centres of Europe:
22. Katie Ascough, Irish Times:
23: Tom & Jacki Interview:
24: Tom & Jacki Interview:
25: Tom & Jacki Interview:
26. Jacki, Neo Fertility:
28: Clare Clifford:
29: Brendan Conroy:
30: Evana Boyle:
31: Mark Hamilton:
31: Hamilton Rockbrook Park:
32: Hamilton Prices:
32a: Cilice:
32b: Opus Dei Mortification:
33 John Murray:
34: RTE, Homophobic:
35: John Murray, what he does:
36: Eanna Murray: