Party-Political Funding Blown Wide Open
If there is one thing you should do today it’s buy The Irish Examiner. Go, g’wan, buy it. Even if you’re not from Cork. Even if you’re not from Munster. Feck it, go and buy it if you’ve never bought a paper or watched the news before. Please, for the good of the country, buy it.
Four links with a few highlights from each, all should be on the national curriculum well worth reading …
An Irish Examiner investigation has revealed the party [FF] took donations either side of the 2007 general election which were above the declaration threshold and should have been notified to the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) – but were not.
In all, 26 companies detailed donations in their accounts, with the total coming to €113,731 – only a small percentage was declared by the parties.
REVELATIONS regarding Fianna Fáil’s handling of excessive donations has put the accounting system for its multi-million euro income stream under scrutiny.
Like other parties only a fraction of its expenditure is explained in annual disclosures. Other companies’ accounts show the party accepted payments in excess of legal limits and failed to report others it was obliged to do.
Two payments from Durkan New Homes (€15,658 and €7,390) and one from Mosney Irish Holidays (€6,500) breached the amount parties can take from a single company.
The limited accounts published ahead of Fianna Fáil’s February Árd Fheis showed it received €2.2 million from the state in 2007 and 2008. Its superdraw fundraiser in 2008 raked in €659,050 and its national constituency collection raised €536,000. During the four-week election campaign of 2007 it spent €3.6m. Regarding the payments revealed today the party insisted it abided by electoral law.
Lip service has been paid to transparency and reform but the figures contained in the accounts – from a sample of companies – give an indication of another world of fundraising away from public scrutiny.
The €113,731 pot revealed today is not part of any database and ordinarily is not readily accessible to the public.
The businesses lodged the details with the Companies Registration Office, fulfilling their obligations under the Electoral Act to mark political donations in excess of €5,078 on their annual returns.
The list is of businesses who made this statement during 2008. These were made available under the Freedom of Information Act, and an application for previous years was denied.
A subsequent trawl of records revealed money given to political parties and elected officials ranging from €150 to €15,658 and totalling more than €113,000.
A sample of annual returns revealed 71% of the payments to six parties came from businesses whose primary interest was property development.
The highlights don’t do the stories justice.
Hats off to Conor Ryan, one of the Examiner’s political correspondents down in Cork for some frankly fantastic journalism. Ryan did some serious muckraking, over the course of a few months I’m told, to unearth some of the hidden funding the political parties receive.
The amount of work that must have gone in to breaking that kind of story is in my own experience often unappreciated.
All in all, great journalism from a name many would not have heard before but is someone who has been doing sterling work with the Examiner for quite a while. This will undoubtedly have an impact and be followed up by further investigations by other journalists, maybe Ryan has more up his sleeve, who knows. Expect to see this run…
What impact this will have on the already shaky coalition is yet to be seen. The Greens are implicated as well, although not to quite the extent as their bigger brothers. Whether they can use this to add to the mound of evil FF deeds that they plan to stand upon when they take a sta-… ah fuck it, it’s almost 2AM I’m just not going to use the poetic analogies. Whether the Greens can use this a bit of a reason to take a moral stance and pull out of government – is as yet unknown, that was easier.
Side-note: Libertas will undoubtedly use this as another reason why people should vote for them in the name of “transparency”. Hah.
Anyway, go biiiiy the Examiner, biiiy!