Florida Ends Restriction On Investing In Northern Irish Companies

May 22, 2015

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs bills into law in 2012. This week Scott signed almost 50 pieces of legislation, including one that lifts restrictions on investing in Northern Ireland that were meant to protect Irish Catholics.
Credit State of Florida

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed nearly 50 bills into law this week. One of them lifted decades-old restrictions on doing business with Northern Ireland.

The move has raised the ire of Irish Catholics.

The MacBride Principles were created in the mid-'80s to protect Catholics from economic discrimination in Northern Ireland. Among other things, they require employers to have a percentage of Catholics on staff.  Florida — along with 17 other states and the federal government — adopted the principles. That means the Florida Pension Fund can invest in Northern Irish companies only if they prove they’re abiding by the principles.

But the new law does away with the investment restriction.

Sean Sidway with the Florida Ancient Order of Hibernians, an organization of Irish Catholics, said “To me it would be similar to somebody saying, ‘Well, we don’t need the Voting Rights Act anymore. Because it appears African-Americans are voting. African-Americans are voting because they’re being protected by the Voting Rights Act.’”

Sidway says his organization is going to start an education campaign to help prevent other state legislatures from rescinding their McBride laws.

Nebraska quietly repealed its MacBride law in 2011.