Friday 21 October 2016

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton forced to refund taxpayer after SIPO violation

Published 25/11/2015 | 06:33

Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation Richard Bruton
Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation Richard Bruton
The letter sent by Richard Bruton

A Cabinet minister has been forced to issue a refund to the taxpayer after using Dáil facilities to promote the annual Fine Gael super draw, reveal.

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Jobs Minister Richard Bruton sent letters to constituents in Oireachtas envelopes which request funds to help the party fight the General Election.

“We must help the poor and those in pain and difficulty. That will be done only on the basis of a sound, growing economy. For all these reasons we want to get into government again,” the letter, a copy of which has been seen by , states.

“We need funds to fight the next election and achieve this goal. You can help by buying a ticket in the Superdraw. The draw provides the core funding for the General Election and the constituency shares in the revenue,” it adds.

Mr Bruton tells constituents that the tickets are priced at €80. But any decision to pay by direct direct gives members two entries in the draw, he says.

The decision to send the letters and tickets for the draw in Oireachtas envelopes is against the laws laid down by the Ethics Watchdog SIPO.

The letter sent by Richard Bruton
The letter sent by Richard Bruton

This is because TDs are prohibited from using State funds to promote party or electoral purposes.

“Oireachtas envelopes are provided to Oireachtas members in respect of their duties as public representatives amd must not be used for other purposes (e.g. electoral or party purposes). The Standards Commission has also stated that the supply of such facilities to others in any circumstances is inappropriate,” a SIPO spokesman said.

A spokesman for Mr Bruton, the Jobs Minister, said he has  made a refund to the Oireachtas.

“This issue arose as a result of an oversight in the Minister’s office.The Minister’s office has initiated contact with SIPO and the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission in the past day seeking clarification of the situation, and subsequently information on precisely how to proceed in order to rectify the situation and fully reimburse any costs involved. The Minister has now written to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission and made a refund in this regard.”

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