2009 Donation Statements

Donation Statements furnished by Political Parties for 2009

Report by the Standards in Public Office Commission to the Chairman of Dáil Éireann pursuant to section 4(1) of the Electoral Act 1997

Foreword

I am pleased to furnish this report to the Ceann Comhairle in accordance with section 4(1) of the Electoral Act 1997 (the Act). The report relates to annual Donation Statements/Statutory Declarations, in respect of 2009, furnished to the Standards in Public Office Commission by political parties pursuant to section 24 of the Act.


Justice M.P. Smith
Chairman

Part 1 - Introduction

During 2009, 15 political parties registered to contest Dáil or European elections were required to furnish a Donation Statement in respect of 2009 to the Standards Commission. Section 4(1) of the Act requires the Standards Commission to consider every Donation Statement furnished to it and where it considers it appropriate to do so, to furnish a report in writing to the Chairman of Dáil Éireann (Ceann Comhairle) on any matter arising.

Part 2 - Donations disclosed by Political Parties

Donations received during 2009 which exceeded an aggregate value of €5,078.95 were required to be disclosed. The maximum value of donations which a political party can accept from the same person in the same calendar year is €6,348.69. Donations received from the same donor in the same calendar year must be aggregated for the purposes of observing the disclosure and maximum acceptance limits. The total value of donations disclosed by parties during 2009 was €78,101.99, the lowest amount disclosed since the introduction of the disclosure requirement 13 years ago. (There was an excess donation of €2,360.81 which was remitted to the Standards Commission as is required under the Act.) Neither of the three main political parties disclosed any donations in 2009, even though this was an election year (European, local and Dáil bye-elections).

The preamble to the Electoral Act 1997 states that the Act is, among other things, "An Act to ... make provision for payments to political parties and candidates, to make provision for disclosure of donations for political purposes, to regulate expenditure at elections by political parties and candidates ...". While political parties have benefited significantly from the provisions relating to funding from the Exchequer (see the separate Standards Commission reports on this), the provisions aimed at ensuring transparency and openness in relation to disclosure of donations remain ineffective. It should be possible for each citizen to have a clear picture of election spending by each candidate and party and also a clear indication of the sources for such funding. If the intention of the legislation is to provide for transparency and openness in relation to party funding and expenditure, then it is not achieving this aim.

The Standards Commission has repeatedly stated that there is a strong case to be made for a new approach to the general funding of political parties, for increased transparency in such funding and for greater scrutiny of political party expenditure.

Tables 1 and 2 of the Appendix summarise the donations disclosed by political parties for 2009.

Part 3 - GRECO Evaluation of transparency of funding of political parties

Ireland became a member of GRECO (Council of Europe Groups of States Against Corruption) in May 1999. GRECO is responsible for monitoring observance of the Guiding Principles for the Fight against Corruption and implementation of the international legal instruments adopted in pursuit of the Programme of Action against Corruption. GRECO decided that one of the provisions to be evaluated in the framework of the third evaluation round of GRECO is the transparency of party funding.

The GRECO Third Evaluation Round was carried out in 2009. The Evaluation Report on Ireland - Transparency of Party Funding was published on 25 January 2010 and is available on the web site - http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/greco/evaluations/round3/GrecoEval3%282009%294_Ireland_Two_EN.pdf

Its recommendations include -

  • that all legislation be consolidated in a comprehensive, clear and up-to-date manner within the electoral code;
  • that all political parties be legally required to publish independently audited annual accounts. These accounts should also report on income and expenditure of local branches;
  • that the current disclosure threshold of €5,078.95 (donations received by political parties) be lowered to an "appropriate level" and the registration of all political donations;
  • a call for reform to bring "greater clarity" to electoral and anti-bribery codes and laws together with their enforcement (this includes a recommendation that party finance legislation be consolidated in a comprehensive, clear and up-to-date manner within the Electoral Code);
  • the extension of the period during which political parties have to report election spending. Currently political parties and candidates only have to report on how much they spent for about three weeks prior to the election, i.e., from the date the election is called to polling day;
  • to ensure that all violations of political funding rules are "coupled with effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions";
  • to allow that the Standards Commission (or the yet-to-be created Electoral Commission) will have additional oversight of donations and spending in local government elections.

The Standards Commission welcomes these recommendations.

Part 4 - Accounting Units

Section 23B(2) of the Act requires the appropriate officer of each political party to notify the Standards Commission of the name and address of each of its "accounting units" and the "responsible person" of each accounting unit. The "responsible person" is the treasurer or any other person responsible for dealing with donations to the unit.

An accounting unit, on receipt of a monetary donation in excess of €126.97, must open and maintain a political donations account in a financial institution in the State. The responsible person must, by 31 March each year, furnish a statement from the financial institution in which the account is held together with the Certificate of Monetary Donations, to the Standards Commission, stating that all monetary donations received during the preceding year were lodged to the account and that all amounts debited from the account were used for political purposes. The Certificate of Monetary Donations is accompanied by a Statutory Declaration. It is an offence for the responsible person of an accounting unit to fail to comply with this requirement.

Table 3 of the Appendix gives details of the number of accounting units of each party contacted by the Standards Commission in 2009. Six political parties have accounting units and the position with regard to returns received from these accounting units is as set out in the table.

The Standards Commission is still pursuing accounting units which have not provided the relevant documentation.

The Standards Commission continues to experience difficulties in supervising the provisions of the Act relating to accounting units. It has highlighted these difficulties in annual and other reports.

It is a cause of concern to the Standards Commission that our major political parties do not seem to have much regard to an Act of the Oireachtas that sets out how donations to units of their parties are reported to the Standards Commission. It is also a concern that, as well as the efforts of the Secretariat of the Standards Commission, scarce Garda resources have had to be called upon to ensure that routine documentation is returned to the Standards Commission. The Standards Commission intends to continue to refer non-compliant accounting units to the Gardaí and regrets that this may result, again, in Garda resources being deployed to ensure compliance by the political parties with the legislation.

Part 5 - Publication of Statutory Documentation

In accordance with section 24(7)(a) of the Act, the Standards Commission has today laid the Donation Statements/Statutory Declarations furnished by political parties before each House of the Oireachtas.

In accordance with section 73 of the Act, the Standards Commission has made the Donation Statements/Statutory Declarations available for public inspection and copying at its offices on 18 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2. The information is also available in summary form on this website.

In accordance with section 23(B)(8) of the Act, details of Certificates of Monetary Donations and bank statements furnished to the Standards Commission by political parties and their accounting units will not be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas or put on public display.

Appendices

Table 1 - Summary of donations disclosed by Political Parties for 2009

Political Party Appropriate Officer Total disclosed 
Fianna Fáil Mr Seán Dorgan Nil 
Fine GaelMr Tom Curran Nil
The Labour Party Ms Ita McAuliffe Nil 
The Green Party Mr Martin Nolan €38,088.00 
Sinn Féin Mr Des Mackin €24,000.00
Progressive Democrats Senator Ciarán Cannon Nil 
Socialist PartyMr Michael Murphy€5,819.55 
Christian Solidarity Party Mr Paul O'Loughlin €8,709.50* 
Libertas Mr Sean Ganley Nil 
People Before Profit Alliance Ms Ailbhe Smyth Nil 
The Workers Party Mr John Lowry Nil
The Communist Party
of Ireland 
Mr Eugene McCartanNil
Christian Democrats (the 
Nationalist Party) 
Mr Daniel Desmond
 
Nil
 
Socialist Workers Party Ms Bríd Smith Nil 
South Kerry Independent
Alliance
Mr Donie DoodyNil
Total €76,617.05 

*The excess donation of €2,360.81 was remitted to the Standards Commission as is required under the Act. This amount was then forwarded to the Minister for Finance.

Table 2 - Details of donations disclosed by political parties

Green Party

Value of Donation
€ 
Type of Donation
 
Description of Donor
 
Name & Address of
Donor 
6,348


 
Standing
Order/cheque 

Individual
 

Ciaran Cuffe TD
Dáil Éireann
Kildare Street
Dublin 2 
6,348


Standing
Order/cheque 

Individual
 

Paul Gogarty TD
Dáil Éireann
Kildare Street
Dublin 2 
6,348


Standing
Order/cheque 

Individual
 

John Gormley TD
Dáil Éireann
Kildare Street
Dublin 2  
6,348 


Standing
Order/cheque 

Individual
 

Eamon Ryan TD
Dáil Éireann
Kildare Street
Dublin 2 
6,348


Standing
Order/cheque

Individual
 

Trevor Sargent TD
Dáil Éireann
Kildare Street
Dublin 2 
6,348


Standing
Order/cheque

Individual
 

Mary White TD
Dáil Éireann
Kildare Street
Dublin 2  
Total   €38,088.00 



Sinn Féin

Value of Donation
€  
Type of Donation
 
Description of Donor
 
Name & Address of
Donor  
6,000.00 

Standing Order

Individual

Caoimghín O'Caoláin TD
Leinster House
Dublin 2 
6,000.00  

Standing Order

Individual 

Arthur Morgan TD
Leinster House
Dublin 2  
6,000.00  

Standing Order

Individual 

Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD
Leinster House
Dublin 2  
6,000.00  

Cheque 

Individual 

Martin Ferris TD
Leinster House
Dublin 2  
Total  €24,000.00 


Socialist Party

Value of Donation
€   
Type of Donation 
Description of Donor 
Name & Address of
Donor   
5,819.55


Standing Order 


Individual 


Joe Higgins
155 Briarwood Close
Mulhuddart
Dublin 15 
Total   €5,819.55


Cómhar Chriostaí - Christian Solidarity Party

Value of Donation
€   
Type of Donation
  
Description of Donor
  
Name & Address of
Donor
8,709.50


 
Bequest - cheque


 
Individual


Nora Kiernan RIP
Our Lady Manor
Dalkey
Co. Dublin 
Total  €8,709.50* 

*The excess donation of €2,360.81 was remitted to the Standards Commission as is required under the Act. This amount was then forwarded to the Minister for Finance.

Table 3 - Accounting Units contacted in 2009

Political Party
 
Received
 
Not Received
Confirmed branch is not an
Accounting Unit 
Fianna Fáil 45 11 
Fine Gael 31 16 
Progressive
Democrats 
12
 
6
 
2
 
Labour Party 26 
Green Party 22 17 
Sinn Féin 
Total 14564 6