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Thursday 23 March 2017

Former FF man is still number one for political donations

Shane Phelan Investigative Correspondent

HE may have failed to win a Dail seat at the last General Election, but there is one poll that Ivor Callely has topped.

The disgraced senator has received more political donations than any other Irish politician in Leinster House or the European Parliament over the past five years.

Mr Callely has declared donations totalling €102,075 since 2005 -- over five times the amount received by Taoiseach Brian Cowen in the same period.

The bulk of Mr Callely's fundraising came in 2005 when the former junior minister raised €69,600 from a golf classic.

Businessmen paid between €750 and €2,500 each to enter teams in the event at the exclusive K Club in Co Kildare.

One of those who made a donation that day was Kevin Baxter, whose father was a director of the company at the centre of the forged expenses controversy involving Mr Callely.

It is alleged the senator used forged invoices from Business Communications, a company which Mr Baxter's father, James, was a director in, to claim almost €2,900 in mobile phone expenses from the Oireachtas.

The invoices date from 2002 to 2006, even though the company went bust in 1994. Neither Mr Baxter, nor his father, know how the senator came to be in possession of the invoices.

Mr Callely has yet to offer an explanation as to how he got them, but claims he received them "in good faith".

Records show Mr Callely also declared donations totalling €4,000 in 2006, €12,675 in 2007, €8,350 in 2008 and €7,450 last year.

Second on the political donations list was former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern on €89,000, followed by his constituency colleague Cyprian Brady on €57,000.

Both Mr Ahern and Mr Brady received all of their donations from Fianna Fail in Dublin Central. The donations were made up of the monetary value placed on their use of the St Luke's building in Drumcondra for their constituency office.

Also featuring prominently on the donations list was Dr Jim McDaid, whose declarations were also made up of the monetary value of the donation of a premises to him for use as a constituency office.

Exceeded

Labour's Alan Kelly got the highest amount of donations for an MEP, receiving €48,700 in the past five years.

He also returned part of some donations as they exceeded amounts allowed by guidelines.

Apart from Mr Callely, only one other senator appears in the top ten donation receivers.

Independent Ronan Mullen received €33,029 since 2007. The vast majority of the donations came during his run for the Seanad.

Politicians are only obliged to declare donations that are valued at €635 and over. They cannot receive donations above the value of €2,539 from the same person in a calendar year.

Irish Independent

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