Election candidate in court appearance
AN UNSUCCESSFUL Independent candidate in the 2011 Dail election was before Tubbercurry Court for failing to make required statements to the Standards in Public Office Commission.
Sean Forkin, Derrinabrook West, Cloontia, Ballymote, who stood in the Mayo constituency, was summoned for failing to furnish statements of electoral expenses, a donation statement and a statutory declaration within 56 days of the general election in February 2011.
The court heard the turnout in Mayo was 74,705. Forkin received nine votes. On counts two and three, the top candidate was Enda Kenny and his surplus was distributed and Forkin received two transfers. Forkin received a total of 31 votes. Jackie Moore, of the Standards in Public Office Commission, said they got no documentation from Forkin.
Sergeant Colm Corcoran gave evidence of gardai visiting Forkin's home on numerous occasions and getting no response.
The sergeant also called to Forkin's mother's house.
On October 27th 2011, he received a letter from Forkin asking the sergeant why he was looking for him and to reply.
On November 16th, 2011, the sergeant wrote to Forkin, saying he had forms for him to complete, and that he could still complete them even though it was outside the time.
In court, Forkin asked why the forms were not sent out by registered post.
Judge Kevin Kilrane asked about the power of the Standards in Public Office Commission to extend the date for returning the forms, even though the relevant Act was clear.
He said: "This is a criminal prosecution and we must have definity."
Ms. Moore said the Commission tried to be pragmatic.
Judge; "There is either discretion in the Act or there is not.
"If there is generosity extended, why not extend it for another six months?
"I would take the view that it is not open to the Commission to say it's alright to send them in late and that there will be no prosecution.
"If we accept that regime, who is to make the decision about what is late?
"There is a system operated that is a discretionary system and that is not covered by legislation about how much discretion there is.
"You are getting into grey territory that for a criminal prosecution is very unsatisfactory." He dismissed the charge. In relation to a charge for not appearing on bail on September 26th last, Forkin said he never got the summons.
Mr. Gallagher pointed out that he did appear previously, and appeared in court on Wednesday last per an undertaking he gave.
Imposing a fine of €200 on this charge, the Judge told him: "You cannot play footsie with the court."