Sinn Fein make heavy use of State sponsored toners
Published 29/02/2012 | 05:00
SINN FEIN leader Gerry Adams was warned that he had exceeded his allocation of printer ink cartridges and overall Sinn Fein TDs are the highest party users of State-funded toners, it was revealed today.
Mr O Snodaigh, now being dubbed ‘Wolf Toner’ has refused to pay back the €50,000 print cartridges bill that he ran up at the taxpayer's expense -- which was enough to paper Croke Park three times over.
The episode has also increased the focus on the printing practices of the other 13 Sinn Fein TDs, who accounted for seven of the 'top 20' users of printer cartridge last year.
They included party leader Gerry Adams, who had the second-highest total in the Dail after Labour's Joe Costello, with 23 printer cartridges at a cost of almost €2,000.
But Mr O Snodaigh used 434 printer toner cartridges over a two-year period -- enough to print 4.3 million black and white pages or 3.4 million colour pages.
It would have taken him three months, working eight hours a day, five days a week, even if he had been using all of his three Oireachtas-supplied printers simultaneously.
And it meant that Mr O Snodaigh would have printed enough A4 leaflets to cover the GAA's Croke Park stadium -- which sits on an area of 65,000 square metres -- three times over.
But Mr O Snodaigh has continued to insist that all the printing was for leaflets for his Dublin South Central constituency office between 2007 and 2008, even though it was five times more than his nearest rivals. And he denied that he had carried out any printing for any other Sinn Fein members or for any of the party's election campaigns.
"I'm no freeloader. Part of my job as a TD and a public representative is to ensure that the public who elect me are kept informed," he said.
Last night, it emerged that Mr O Snodaigh's use of printer cartridges had dropped from a high of 215 in 2007 -- when there were no limits -- to just 18 last year. The cost of each printer toner ranges from €164 for a colour version to €48 for a black and white one.
But Sinn Fein TDs still accounted for seven of the 'top 20' spenders, followed by Labour (four), Fianna Fail (four), Fine Gael (three) and Independents (two).
So far, Sinn Fein is standing firmly behind Mr O Snodaigh. Party leader Gerry Adams admitted that the cost was excessive but declined to ask him to pay any of it back.
"The rules obviously have changed and I think that's a very good thing," he said
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin called for an investigation, while Enda Kenny said Sinn Fein should look into it.
And there was doubt cast on his explanation yesterday by fellow politicians.
Labour TD Eric Byrne expressed scepticism about Mr O Snodaigh's claim that he had distributed so many leaflets in the Dublin South Central constituency that they share.
"All politicians are acutely sharp when it comes to their opponents' dropping leaflets. Nothing spectacular came out of the Sinn Fein camp," he said.
Fianna Fail senator Thomas Byrne said every one of the 80,203 voters in the constituency should have received at least 37 letters from Mr O Snodaigh in just two years.
"However, our office has received various calls from Dublin South Central voters, who are adamant that they have never received a single scrap of literature from him," he said.
It emerged last night that the Oireachtas does not monitor the amount of paper used by individual members -- which meant there were no limits on the paper supplies that Mr O Snodaigh could obtain.
The Irish Independent contacted nine of the current 14 Sinn Fein TDs who were not in the Dail, Seanad or Northern Assembly during the 2007-2008 period when Mr O Snodaigh used so many printer cartridges.
Sinn Fein Meath West TD Peadar Toibin, Laois-Offaly TD Brian Stanley and Sligo North Leitrim TD Michael Colreavy all confirmed that he didn't print any material for them.
Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald also said she believed Mr O Snodaigh.
"I can guarantee that all of the cartridges used were for the purposes envisaged and that Aengus used them legitimately and correctly in the course of his political work," she said.
The Irish Daily Mail today reports that Gerry Adams has used 23 ink cartridges, at a cost of €1,984.40 in his first year in Dail Eireann.
Restrictions are in place since 2009 limiting TDs to €2,000 worth of printer cartridges – any usage over that amount has to be reimbursed to the State.
Mr O Snodaigh has used 18 cartridges at a cost of €1,905.75 in the last year while his party colleagues also have significant usage.
Newly elected TD Padraig MacLochlainn used 18 cartridges at a cost of €1,553.64; Caoimhgin O Caolain used 17 cartridges at a cost of €1,506.45; Mary Lou McDonald used 17 cartridges at a cost of €1,468.94 and Dessie Ellis used 16 cartridges at €1,677.06.
The Sinn Fein TDs were topped however by Labour’s Joe Costello who used 25 cartridges at a cost of €3,484.80, Derek Nolan of Labour who used 23 cartridges at a cost of €2,092.93 and Fianna Fail’s Eamon O Cuiv who ran up a bill of €1,978.35 for 22 cartridges.
Fine Gael TD Denis Naughten used 21 cartridges costing €2,462.35 while Sean Flemming of Fianna Fail used 20 cartridges costing €1,988.03 and Niall Blaney of Fianna Fail used 17 costing €2,202.20.