Full transparency essential on political funding
Published 16/02/2012 | 05:00
The revelation that property developers and other businesses were able to avoid disclosing over two-thirds of the more than €700,000 which they donated to the political parties over the past decade makes a nonsense of the current law on corporate donations. With the current legislation allowing most donations to be concealed, there is an urgent need for reform in order to ensure transparency in the funding of political parties.
As we reveal in today's newspaper, an analysis of the returns filed with the Companies Registration Office by just nine companies revealed political donations of €725,000 of which just €228,000, a mere 31pc, had been disclosed to the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO). The fact that such a small number of companies could donate such a large amount and, perfectly legally, avoid disclosing over two-thirds of it makes a nonsense of the restrictions on political donations introduced by the previous government.
Among the firms whose records we analysed were four property and construction companies, Harcourt Developments, Treasury Holdings, Durkan New Homes and Ballymore Group, all of which have had at least some of their bank loans transferred to NAMA. The firms whose filings were surveyed by the Irish Independent also included a motor dealership, a hotel company, food giant Glanbia and Morgan Fuels, the company owned and operated by convicted fuel smuggler Hugh Morgan that featured so dramatically in the final stages of last October's presidential election campaign.