| 20°C Dublin

Quinn 'not bankrolling' poll fight

AN Independent election candidate who works for Quinn Insurance last night denied her employer is bankrolling her campaign.

Caroline Forde (41), a regional claims manager at Quinn Insurance, has taken a two-week leave of absence from her job to fight for a seat in the Cavan/Monaghan constituency.

But local sources have questioned how she can afford to fund an election office on a salary of about €50,000 without serious financial backing.

They also queried her late entrance into the campaign earlier this month.

"We can't understand how she is funding this -- it doesn't make sense," one source told the Irish Independent. "She has hundreds of state-of-the-art posters all around Cavan as well as an election office in the town."

Ms Forde denied she was being funded by businessman Sean Quinn, his family or any of his companies.

"I have received no funding off them (the Quinns)," Ms Forde told the Irish Independent. "They have been supportive and given me two weeks off."

Named Ireland's richest man just three years ago, Mr Quinn and his family now owe €2.8bn to the State through borrowings with the now-nationalised Anglo Irish Bank. The money was mainly used to buy up a secret 28pc stake in the bank which subsequently collapsed.

But despite the outstanding debt, Mr Quinn and family have private assets worth €600m.


Spokespersons for Mr Quinn, his family and companies have also denied they are financing the campaign.

Ms Forde insisted her campaign office on Connolly Street was being funded by friends, family and fellow Quinn staff.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

While she admitted she had no political experience or background, Ms Forde said her campaign was centred on the plight of Quinn workers.

"Hundreds of Quinn workers are worried for the future and the campaign is designed to highlight their fears," she said.

Quinn Insurance was put into administration last year by the Financial Regulator after it emerged the firm's financial strength was below the standards set for insurance companies. Hundreds of Quinn Insurance staff have since lost their jobs and the administrators are seeking a buyer for the firm.

Anglo Irish Bank is keen to become part-owner in Quinn Insurance because of the debt.

However, the sale of the company is not now expected until March when a new government has been elected.

The Cavan/Monaghan constituency is a five seater.

Ms Forde will battle it out with 13 other candidates, including outgoing Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith and Sinn Fein's Caomhin O Caolain.

All candidates have to adhere to strict rules in relation to funding, which is monitored by the Standards in Public Office. Any donations from an individual of €634.87 or more must be disclosed. The maximum that can be accepted from a donor in a calendar year is €2,539.48.