“This would be normal practice in such matters for Parliamentary Party members who seek my advice. The matter pertaining to Corporate Donor registration and consideration of same resides exclusively with my offices.” In a letter to Sipo, Mr Burke wrote: “I would be appreciative if you could particularly note that the Taoiseach followed the advices of my offices in this matter and fully disclosed all donations he received. Mr Burke said the party had already taken refunds totalling €3,900 from the Taoiseach and Mr Byrne and that both of the Oireachtas members would personally contact the commission to confirm this.
Under electoral legislation, if a party wants to contribute to a member of their own party, they are first required to register as a corporate donor. However, they said they regretted the “unintended oversight” of having allowed the Taoiseach and Senator Malcolm Byrne to accept donations of €1,000 and €2,900 from the party which were not allowed.
However, two of the Government parties — Fianna Fáil and the Green Party — did not do this and were subsequently asked to return donations that had been made to a number of members. Records obtained under Freedom of Information reveal how Fianna Fáil told the commission they had an “exemplary record” on compliance with electoral law over the past 10 years.
The Green Party also refunded three donations that had been paid to members as a result of issues around registration as a corporate donor, according to Sipo records. A spokeswoman for Fianna Fáil said: “Once this matter was drawn to our attention by Sipo, we took steps to resolve (it). We have registered the party and its branches as a corporate donor to make such payments. A letter to the party said: “The (Standards) Commission considers that it is not appropriate to accept retrospective applications for inclusion on the register of corporate donors.”
The records also reveal how Sipo ruled out the party seeking to retrospectively apply for corporate donor status to make the donations allowable. Sipo said this would not be allowed and Fianna Fáil would be included effective only from last September. Mr Burke added that Fianna Fáil would be “remedying the matter” for the future and thanked Sipo for bringing it to their attention.
The News Highlights
- Fianna Fáil’s chief financial officer says Micheál Martin followed his advice on donating €1,000
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