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Sunday 22 October 2017

Top parties silent on political donations

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE three main political parties failed to declare any donations to the State's ethics watchdog last year despite ramping up fundraising ahead of the general election.

The Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) last night published its annual report into donations to TDs, senators, MEPs and political parties.

SIPO rules say that donations to parties over €5,079 must be disclosed and the maximum value of a donation, or multiple donations, a party can accept from the same donor in the one year is €6,349.

But Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour did not disclose any donations, in a year when they were raising funds for the general election.

Fine Gael in particular was aggressively raising funds, and the party became embroiled in controversy last year when now junior minister Lucinda Creighton criticised a golf classic hosted by her own party in the K Club attended by property developers.

At the start of the year, Fine Gael said it had €2.25m available to spend on its election campaign.

Although it has been common for the three parties not to reveal any donations in the past few years, others did volunteer information for 2010.

The Green Party disclosed donations of €38,088, Sinn Fein said it received €24,000, while the Socialist Party got €5,819.

Political parties received a total of €13,480,748 in state funding for 2010 under the Electoral Acts and under the Party Leaders' Allowance legislation.

Fianna Fail received €5.2m, Fine Gael €4.8m, Labour €2.2m, the Green Party €801,000 and Sinn Fein €830,000.

Independent TDs and senators also get funding under the Party Leaders' Allowance legislation.

SIPO said 237 donation statements were received from TDs, senators and MEPs last year.

Donations

A total of €99,842 worth of donations were revealed by 15 TDs, three senators and one MEP.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney topped the list with €19,650 from 10 donors.

Alan Kelly, then an MEP but now a TD and junior minister, declared €10,980 from five sources.

Senator Ronan Mullen declared almost €10,000 from four donors.

Willie O'Dea declared €6,000 from three people, while former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and fellow former Dublin Central TD Cyprian Brady both declared the use of Fianna Fail constituency offices from the local party organisation, which they valued at €13,500 and €19,000 respectively.

Former Green leader John Gormley declared €2,500 from his party organisation in Dublin South-East.

Irish Independent

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