The State's ethics watchdog has defended its decision to order Amnesty International to return a €137,000 donation from billionaire and philanthropist George Soros.

The money was provided to Amnesty for its 'My Body, My Rights' campaign that advocates the repeal of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. 

SIPO says the electoral laws prohibit political donations from groups outside the country.

This is to protect against foreign interference in elections and referendums.

SIPO confirmed that in 2016 it received information that several Irish organisations had received donations from a foreign donor. 

At the time, the commission received assurances from the recipients that the money was not for political campaigns. 

However, recently it received new information that indicated the donations were for this purpose. 

In a statement, SIPO said this was later confirmed in writing by the donor.

The Chief Executive of Amnesty International Ireland, Colm O'Gorman, described the decision as flawed and he said the organisation would consider challenging it.