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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Fine Gael and Labour fail to name any donors

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

FINE Gael and Labour did not reveal the identity of a single donor who paid for their general election spend of almost €2m -- in the latest example of the weakness of laws on political funding.

This means that Fine Gael, in particular, has maintained its record of not declaring a single donation to the party since Taoiseach Enda Kenny became its leader 10 years ago.

New records also show that Fianna Fail has taken a €2.1m hit in its annual state funding last year -- due to the fact that it lost a staggering 58 seats in the general election.

In total, political parties disclosed donations worth just €30,997 last year, even though they spent more than €9m.

This was the lowest donations figure disclosed since the requirement came in 15 years ago. The state elections watchdog, the Standards in Public Office Commission, once again criticised the current disclosure rules as "ineffective".

"Currently, it is difficult for any citizen to have a clear picture of election spending by each candidate," it said.

Fine Gael spent €1.19m during last year's election, while Labour spent €789,000. But both parties were able to hide the names of donors because they are only required to reveal these in the case of donations of more than €5,078.

Fianna Fail declared one donation of €6,348 from Edward Quinlan of Mount Oval, Rochestown, Co Cork, who has been a regular donor to it.

Sinn Fein declared a €6,000 donation from Kerry North TD Martin Ferris and a €6,000 donation from Dublin South Central TD Aengus O Snodaigh.

Socialist Party leader Joe Higgins gave the maximum possible personal donation of €6,348 to his party, while Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy gave €6,300.

New legislation being brought through the Dail by Environment Minister Phil Hogan will tighten the rules by requiring parties to disclose donations of over €2,500 instead of the current €6,348 limit.

The Standards Commission also said the Communist Party of Ireland has not yet furnished it with a donation statement/ statutory declaration.

"The Standards Commission will refer a file to the gardai on the Communist Party's failure to comply with the statutory requirements," a statement said.

Irish Independent

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