Daly used pre-paid Dail envelopes in votes push
INDEPENDENT Socialist TD Clare Daly has come under fire from political opponents for using Oireachtas stationery to engage in "out-and-out electioneering".
Ms Daly used pre-paid Oireachtas envelopes to canvass for votes from residents in the Swords electoral area on behalf of her "election team".
Last night, Ms Daly's office admitted she made an "error" and is arranging with the Standards in Public Office (SIPO) to repay the money.
The letters sent last week called on residents to give their first and second preference votes for two United Left candidates seeking to be elected in the nine-seat council constituency.
She went on to say she had used the Dail "to shake up the status quo", before making a direct pitch for two local council candidates running in the Swords area who are members of the United Left.
"Enough is enough! Election Day is your chance to pay them back. You need campaigners who will fight for you. Vote 1 & 2 Doyle and McCool, or your highest possible preference," she wrote.
But the sending of the letters in Oireachtas envelopes has drawn a furious response from her political opponents.
Local election independent candidate in the Swords area, Justin Sinnott, was appalled to have received the letter, even though he is not in Ms Daly's Dail electoral area.
"When I opened up the letter and saw what it was I was really deflated as I have been working on this campaign since November. I have knocked on every door in the Fingal part of Santry, Finglas and half of Swords. I just felt that there is no way I can compete with this. Every candidate puts leaflets through the door but a letter from a TD as prominent as Clare is far more effective."
Ms Daly's constituency rival, Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell, said: "I saw the letter and it's not an update but it is more like out- and-out electioneering. To my mind it doesn't fall inside the rules of the correct use of the envelopes and I take a dim view of it."
Ms Daly's campaign director Rhona McCord last night confirmed that a "small number of pre-paid envelopes" went out in part of the southern end of the constituency.
"This is the first election Clare has been involved in as a non-party member and the staff in the office were unaware of the protocol," Ms MsCord said.