Politics

Sinn Féin accounts for bulk of reported political party donations in 2020


Political parties have disclosed donations of more than €152,000 for 2020, the year of the general election.

Sinn Féin accounted for almost half of the donations reported to the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo). It disclosed €70,668 in donations, almost all from its TDs and Senators.

Fine Gael had €46,168 in donations – all from its own politicians. The Labour Party reported €17,950 in donations, and the Green Party had €11,500.

Parties are only required to disclose donations, including the name and address of the donor, above a €1,500 threshold.

Labour’s disclosure included three donations totalling €2,700 that fell under the threshold for reporting.

Fianna Fáil, the Social Democrats and Solidarity-People Before Profit reported no donations over €1,500 for 2020.

The National Party, Workers Party and Workers and Unemployed Action disclosed €2,500, €2,400 and €1,500, respectively.

The Sipo report says that one party, the Irish Freedom Party, “proactively disclosed two prohibited donations from anonymous donors and remitted the amounts in full to the Exchequer”.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald donated €2,500 to her party with contributions from TDs and Senators varying.

Dawn Doyle, Ms McDonald’s chef de cabinet, donated €1,600. Clare TD Violet Anne Wynne donated €1,666.62, while Cork South Central TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire gave €1,845.

Cavan Monaghan TD Pauline Tully and Senator Fintan Warfield were among those that gave €2,500.

Midlands North-West MEP Chris McManus gave €2,499.93, while Fingal councilor Aaron O’Rourke donated €2,450 to Sinn Féin.

In Fine Gael’s return Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is listed as donating €1,571.91.

Two donors – former minister of state Michael D’Arcy and Senator Mary Seery Kearney – gave €2,096.91 and €2,251.57, respectively.

Former Labour leader Brendan Howlin gave €2,400 to his party, while his successor, Alan Kelly, donated €2,200.

Green MEPs Ciarán Cuffe and Grace O’Sullivan both donated €2,500 to their party.

Kevin McGeeney – the Irish chief executive of Starsupply Commodity Brokers (SCB), a Switzerland-based renewable energy brokerage firm – donated €2,500 to the Green Party for the second year in a row.

He told the Irish Times that like the €2,500 given in 2019, the donation was “purely personal” and “SCB has no Irish Government connection of any kind.”

Where a party receives a donation valued over €100, it must open and maintain a political donations account in a recognised financial institution where all future donations must be lodged.

The Sipo report also includes a section on accounting units – which are defined as a branch or other subsidiary organisation of a political party that receives a donation of more than €100.

Like their parent political parties, such units must set up an account in a financial institution when it gets such donations.

The Sipo report outlines how there are 159 accounting units across the seven main political parties.

It said that the aggregate closing balance held by accounting units in relation to 2020 was €544,721.59.

However, it did not include a breakdown of how much was held by individual parties.

The report said: “Accounting units are not required to submit a donation statement to the Commission.

“As noted in previous reports, this makes it difficult for the Commission to ascertain the source of monies held in the political donation accounts of accounting units and to oversee compliance with the donation provisions of the Act.

“Again this year, the Commission reiterates its view that further refinement of the legislation is required to ensure that there is full transparency in respect of accounting units.”



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