Monday 11 December 2017

FF 'family' dug deep during last election

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

FIANNA Fail candidates got cash from their fathers, their brothers and even their mother-in-laws to boost their chances in the last general election.

The records of political donations released this week show how loyal families chipped in at a time when the party's popularity ratings were at record lows.

Fianna Fail's Darragh O'Brien is one politician who obviously has a great relationship with his extended family. He got a €650 cheque from his mother-in-law Anne Maxwell towards his unsuccessful campaign to hold his seat in Dublin North.

"When Anne gives you a few quid towards a campaign, I'd say you have to pay it back 10-fold in other ways," he joked.

Mr O'Brien also got a €650 donation from his father-in-law Maurice and a €2,000 donation from his brother, Fianna Fail councillor Eoghan O'Brien.

But he was not alone in getting family support -- records from the Standards in Public Office Commission show Fianna Fail's Sligo-North Leitrim candidate Marc MacSharry got a €2,500 donation from his father, former EU Commissioner Ray MacSharry. He failed to get elected but like Darragh O'Brien, got a Seanad seat.

Former Children's Minister Barry Andrews got €1,000 from his father, former Foreign Affairs Minister David Andrews. But he lost the "family seat" in Dun Laoghaire, held since 1965.

And from the wider Fianna Fail family, former Fianna Fail Justice Minister Dermot Ahern made a large donation to try to help the party hold onto his seat in Louth. He gave €1,000 to Fianna Fail candidate and councillor Declan Breathnach who failed to get elected.

Fianna Fail senator Labhras O'Murchu gave a €200 donation to Mr Breathnach and the same amount to Fianna Fail councillor Kevin O'Keeffe, in Cork East. He denied that his support for them was related to their positions as councillors who could vote in the Seanad elections.

"I was friendly with them, that was the main reason," he said.

Expenses

The donations were used to fund candidates' posters, leaflets and advertising expenses during the 2011 general election campaign, which cost €9m.

Fine Gael used €300,000 of its funding to hire the Chemistry advertising agency which has created raunchy ads featuring scantily clad models for the Hunky Dorys crisp brand.

But the agency said it had not been involved in the most recent Hunky Dorys ads featuring scantily clad models playing rugby and other sports.

In another display of family loyalty, former Green Party Communications Minister Eamon Ryan got a €1,500 donation from his father Bob. He lost his seat in Dublin South as the Green Party's Dail presence was wiped out.

Abuse survivor Mannix Flynn got a different type of donation -- the free use of horses and jarveys on election day (worth €900) in his run in Dublin South East.

Irish Independent

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