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Friday 23 February 2018

O'Rourke's €2,500 expenses request upsets FF staff

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

FORMER Fianna Fail TD Mary O'Rourke has upset some party workers by asking for €2,500 from the coffers of her local organisation to pay for her election campaign.

Ms O'Rourke requested at a local meeting in Athlone that the Comhairle Ceantair -- the local branch -- give her the money, which sources claim will put the branch into debt.

The Irish Independent has learnt some party members were annoyed at Ms O'Rourke's request at the meeting on Friday and it was put to a vote.

There was particular annoyance since she will leave the Oireachtas with generous lump-sum and pension payments from her time as a TD, minister and senator.

Her organisation only has €2,365 in its kitty and local sources said candidates usually do their own fundraising for campaigns or pay from their own pockets. However, it depends on the procedures of different organisations, with many local branches pitching in to help out a candidate's campaign.

But one FF TD warned such spending was agreed in advance and that "you'd never look for money after the election".


Ms O'Rourke won the vote at the meeting, and the local party has said it will pay her the €2,000, but will have to hold off paying the extra €500 until it can raise more funds.

Some party members, who did not wish to be named, had said they did not expect to have to pay the money. "If she had come to us a month or two ago, we couldn't have said no, we would have had to hold fundraisers," one source said. "We would have thought it would have been the other way around, that she would be giving us €5,000 because finances aren't great."

The fund is usually used to pay for renting rooms for meetings and other small spending.

Ms O'Rourke last night said the local organisation always paid election expenses and that she wouldn't leave it in debt.

"There are usually golf classics and fundraisers but there wasn't the appetite for it this time," she said.

"Lots of TDs would leave the Comhairle Ceantairs in debt. I have never done that and it's not in debt, it's even-steven."

She said most of the people in the room supported her position and that "a forest of hands went up" backing her.

Irish Independent

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