Controversial TD Sean Conlan angers Fine Gael members with fundraiser
Controversial Fine Gael TD Sean Conlan has infuriated local party members over plans to hold a pre-election fundraising dinner while Fine Gael's national Superdraw is still ongoing.
Fine Gael fundraising guidelines say party members should not hold other fundraising events while the national draw is being held, as it is seen as unfair to ask the membership to donate additional funding while the draw is ongoing.
Fundraising events are also closely monitored by party headquarters to ensure donations are made within strict rules set out by the Standards in Public Office Commission.
Mr Conlan is holding an event in the Glencarn Hotel, in Castleblayney, on December 10, while the Superdraw is ongoing. The period of the national draw is October 1 to December 31.
Last night, Mr Conlan said he did not need permission from Fine Gael headquarters to hold the dinner.
"I am fortunate that I have a large group of friends and supporters from both inside and outside the party who are helping to organise the event to launch what I hope will be a successful election campaign," he said.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar is due to speak at the fundraiser, subject to permission being granted by Fine Gael trustees.
After receiving a complaint about the Cavan/Monaghan TD's fundraising event, his local Fine Gael executive wrote to members informing them that the only sanctioned fundraising event in the constituency is the party's national Superdraw.
In the letter, which has been seen by the Sunday Independent, Fine Gael members are asked to support the national fundraiser as it "benefits our constituency once we achieve our target sales".
"This is the ONLY fundraiser sanctioned by Fine Gael HQ, nationally and within this constituency, therefore I urge your support for the Superdraw," the letter states.
"No other fundraising draw or event for the party or any FG public representative has permission from FG HQ to take place while the Superdraw is under way," it adds.
The letter does not specifically mention Mr Conlan but party sources said it was sent to address the concerns of irate members who complained about the local TD's fundraising event.
Last night, Mr Conlan expressed concern about the contents of the letter and said he will be raising it at the next meeting of the Monaghan Fine Gael county executive.
Mr Conlan also claimed the letter was sent in Oireachtas envelopes and said he will be raising this issue at the county executive meeting.