Friday 22 November 2019

Labour returned funding to Siptu after donations probe

Paul Murphy TD
Paul Murphy TD
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

The Labour Party was forced to return funding it received from the country's biggest union Siptu as it had breached strict limits on political donations.

Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy, who received €10,000 in political donations last year, also repaid funding he received from his parliamentary assistant as it exceeded the permitted limit.

Left-wing party People Before Profit also returned money it received from the Unite union, according to the latest register of political donations published by the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo).

Junior Agriculture Minister Tom Hayes and People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett were reported to gardaí for failing to file returns for political donations on time.

Both have since sent the relevant documentation to Sipo and gardaí have been notified. Neither received any donations last year.

Mr Hayes said he sent his return "a long time ago" and received an acknowledgement from the commission before it published its report.

TDs, Senators and MEPs disclosed donations totalling €25,500.

Communications Minister Alex White received €1,000 and Environment Minister Alan Kelly received €3,000.

Mr White's donation was from barrister Richard N Kean, who gave his address as the Law Library in Dublin.

Mr Kelly received donations from his brother Declan and his brother's business partner Michael Madden, who is based in New York.

Independent Senator Ronan Mullen received €10,500 and Independent MEP Marian Harkin registered a €1,000 donation.

Ms Harkin's donation was from US-based public relations company boss Terry Rooney.

Siptu made 32 donations of €595 each to various Labour Party local election candidates and gave €1,000 to former MEP Emer Costello who failed to get re-elected.

Donations totalling €2,950 were given to two accounting units and the head office of the Labour Party.

The aggregate total therefore of the Siptu donations to the Labour Party were found to be in excess of the €2,500 limit and the party returned €450 to Siptu.

Mr Murphy received a donation exceeding the maximum limit by €110 from his parliamentary assistant Finghan Kelly, which he later returned and informed the commission.

The Unite union "mistakenly" made a donation to People Before Profit that exceeded the maximum donation permitted by Sipo - the money was repaid to the union. The Irish National Teachers Union (INTO) made donations to the local election campaigns of candidates running for Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Sinn Féin and Independents.

Politicians are required to disclose all donations above €600 and are prohibited from receiving donations in excess of €1,000.

Elected representatives are required to open a specific political donations bank account if they received more than €100 from a donor.

They are not permitted to take anonymous donations and no more than €200 in cash can be accepted in a single year.

Irish Independent

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