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Wednesday 14 November 2018

Ceann Comhairle reclaimed £1 donation to charity

Senan Molony Deputy Political Editor

JOHN O'Donoghue personally reclaimed a stg£1 donation he made to Unicef during a visit to Scotland.

According to his released documentation on expenses, the donation was added -- with Mr O'Donoghue's consent -- to his bill for a stay at the Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa in Edinburgh earlier this year.

The Ceann Comhairle personally paid some minor personal expenses on his bill for the three-night stay.

But he reclaimed the £1 donation. This meant the cost of the donation was diverted to the taxpayer.

The Ceann Comhairle attended the Scottish parliament for a Burns supper from January 21 to 24 last. He stayed at the Sheraton on Festival Square in Edinburgh.

The bill came to £801.70. This included three sessions of bar drinks, at £17.70, £21.40 and £7.10. Mr O'Donoghue marked the first two tabs as "official" and reclaimed them.

But he paid the third tab -- £7.10 -- as a personal expense, and also paid for a laundry charge of £4.50. This came to £11.60, which Mr O'Donoghue repaid to the Houses of the Oireachtas Finance Unit by way of a €12.45 contribution.

The bill shows that Mr O'Donoghue did not regard the Unicef donation as a personal expense, and it thus formed part of what he was repaid by the Oireachtas, meaning that the charity contribution was diverted to the taxpayer.

The value came to €1.08, according to the 0.9244 conversion rate used by the Ceann Comhairle himself and shown in manuscript notation on his bill.



Bills

There is an alliance between Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Unicef. Starwood, operators of the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh applies a "Check Out For Children" mechanism to bills -- with the agreement of guests.

The hotel group states: "Upon arrival at a Starwood hotel, guests are advised they will be invited to add one US$1 (or local currency equivalent) to their bill upon checkout, as a donation to Unicef. Any guest not wishing to donate merely informs reception."

Starwood says its "unique partnership" with Unicef has raised over $21m to support life-saving programmes for children throughout the world.

Irish Independent

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