Thursday 14 December 2017

Bottom four now facing losses of €800,000

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE bottom four presidential candidates are facing combined losses of €800,000 because they didn't perform well enough to recoup election expenses from the State.

Only winner Michael D Higgins, runner-up Sean Gallagher and third-placed Martin McGuinness reached the level needed to get up to €200,000 back from the State.

Candidates must reach 12.5pc of the quota, and Gay Mitchell, David Norris, Dana Rosemary Scallon and Mary Davis fell short of this.

It means they will have to foot the bill for all their election expenses, while the taxpayer will give a total €600,000 to the Higgins, McGuinness and Gallagher campaigns. Over the weekend, Mr Norris said he was now in debt and had lost his entire life savings.

"It only puts me in the same situation as so many other people in the country," Mr Norris said.

The payments to the defeated candidates are not subject to income tax. Each candidate has an election agent who is responsible for maintaining spending records such as receipts and invoices. They are submitted to the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO), with the money later coming from exchequer funds.

It is unclear how much each candidate spent, but Fine Gael had the biggest war-chest by far, with figures as high as €700,000 mentioned.

The party said it had budgeted for all eventualities.

Irish Independent

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