Saturday 21 September 2019

Convicted smuggler billed SF €3,300 in Áras race


Billed: Sinn Féin presidential candidate Liadh Ní Riada. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Billed: Sinn Féin presidential candidate Liadh Ní Riada. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Sinn Féin presidential candidate Liadh Ní Riada's campaign spent €3,300 with convicted fuel smuggler Hugh Morgan's company during her failed bid for Áras an Uachtaráin.

Records released by the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) show two items of transport and travel expenditure with Morgan Fuels Ireland.

Mr Morgan was famously at the centre of controversy during the 2011 presidential election amid claims he donated €5,000 to Fianna Fáil through Independent candidate Seán Gallagher.

Then-Sinn Féin candidate Martin McGuinness made the claim during the last televised debate on RTÉ's 'Frontline' programme without naming Mr Morgan.

Mr Morgan later confirmed he made a €5,000 donation to Fianna Fáil.

Mr Gallagher subsequently sued RTÉ over the 'Tweetgate' incident. This related to a tweet read out by presenter Pat Kenny during the debate, prior to which Mr Gallagher was regarded as frontrunner.

A Twitter account with a user name similar to that of the official Martin McGuinness campaign, but not linked to Mr McGuinness, said the man who claimed he had given a €5,000 cheque to Mr Gallagher would appear at a press conference. The case taken by Mr Gallagher against RTÉ was settled in 2017 with the former presidential election candidate said to have received "substantial damages".

Records released this week show two instances of spending with Morgan Fuels Ireland - one for €240.48 and another for €3,089.39 - in the course of Ms Ní Riada's 2018 bid for the presidency.

The sums are part of overall expenses of €209,716 disclosed by her campaign.

Ms Ní Riada lost her European Parliament seat in this year's election.

A Sinn Féin spokesperson last night said: "Morgan Fuels is a legimate company, whose fuel card is used extensively throughout Ireland and Europe."

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section