Monday 18 December 2017

Kenny not in favour of banning corporate donations

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

FINE Gael leader Enda Kenny is not in favour of banning corporate donations.

His party's environment spokesman, Phil Hogan, says Fine Gael "agrees with companies being able to support political parties to the limits that they have been up to now".

Mr Kenny wants to introduce greater transparency by having parties publish the annual accounts.

However, the party also believes some individuals or companies won't want it to be known they are contributing to political parties.

Donations over €5,000 have to be declared to the state ethics watchdog -- the Standards in Public Office Commission. Parties cannot accept donations above €6,350 from the same donor in the same year.

Fine Gael has enjoyed great success in bringing in small sums from supporters. Well over half of the party's fundraising comes from its extremely successful national draw, the takings from which are set to pass the €10m mark this year.


Crucial to the rejuvenation of the party was the behind-the-scenes work of the party's fundraising team.

The report by FG strategist Frank Flannery on how to revive the party's fortunes after the 2002 general election singled out fundraising.

Under Michael Noonan's leadership, the party had shunned any corporate donations, but Mr Kenny reversed this policy.

"You can't take on Fianna Fail with one hand tied behind your back," a party source said.

Mr Flannery recommended hiring a full-time fundraiser to ensure the party's approach to bringing in money was professional.

The party poached Anne Strain, then a fundraising executive with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, in late 2002.

The livewire fundraiser transformed the party's money-raising capabilities with a range of events, including the revamped national draw, a Presidential dinner and golf classics.

Working off the sympathy arising from the near demise of the party, the Fine Gael leadership engendered a spirit of assisting the fightback.

Mr Kenny made it clear to supporters that funds were needed to take on Fianna Fail.

Ms Strain's major success is the national draw which has brought in €9.3m in ticket sales over the last eight years.

Last year, the party sold 15,395 tickets at €80 a pop. The bulk of the sales are repeat sales, with members and supporters signed up year-on-year.

Irish Independent

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