Sinn Féin u-turned on their call for a vote of no-confidence of Minister for Public Expenditure, Paschal Donohoe, last week after the party had to correct their 2020 election expenses again.
It was found the party submitted the pound sterling value of two expenses, costing £4,800 and £800 respectively, instead of the euro value to the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO).
As a cause of this, the party under-reported their election expenses at a cost of €945.
The party was due to table a vote of no confidence in Minister Paschal Donohoe after it was discovered that he failed to declare two separate postering expenses during the 2016 and 2020 election.
A spokesperson for Sinn Féin told reporters that they will correct their report and blamed the incident on an “administrative error that should not have happened.”
However, Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó’Broin told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland last week that he doesn’t believe Minister Donohoe is owed an apology by the party and claimed there was a big difference between the two incidents.
Deputy Ó’Broin said as soon as the party were made aware of the error, they “rectified them immediately.”
Deputy Ó’Broin added that was the difference in the two situations as Minister Donohoe “…failed to declare significant donations, was notified in 2017, did nothing about it, was notified in 2022, did nothing about it. Came before the Dáil once, didn’t declare his full donations, and still has very significant questions to answer.”
Last Tuesday, before Minister Donohoe’s second statement to the Dáil, businessman Michael Stone revealed he paid for six people to help with postering for Minister Paschal Donohoe’s 2020 election campaign, at a cost of €972.
This was the second time that Stone admitted he paid for posters to be put up for Minister Donohoe’s campaign, claiming “didn’t know” that the donations had to be accounted for in his election expenses on both occasions.
On both occasions, Minister Donohoe failed to report these donations to SIPO.
Stone said, “In December 2022, Paschal asked me whether I had provided such help with the 2020 election. I mistakenly believed that I had not and told him so. On Wednesday, 18th January 2023, I again confirmed to him my mistaken recollection.”
Stone added, “I also arranged to supply some of these individuals with vans for the period they worked which I now know had a commercial value of €434.20.”
Stone resigned from his positions as Chairperson of the North East Inner City Programme Implementation Board and board member of the Land Development Agency.
Minister Donohoe told the Dáil last Tuesday he “unknowingly” received the donation in 2020, which was over the legal threshold, and claimed to correct the report to SIPO and return the €234.20 in excess.
Sinn Féin President, Mary Lou McDonald, claimed she and her party did not believe Minister Donohoe’s claims and said, during leaders’ questions, that the Minister has chosen “concealment and cover up, time and time again.”
McDonald went on to claim that she believes it was “convenient” that the Minister didn’t know about the donation and Michael Stone had forgotten.
TD Mairéad Farrell of Sinn Féin spoke to Galway Bay FM last week, claimed that safeguards should’ve been put in place by Fine Gael which would’ve given additional powers to SIPO.
Deputy Farrell claimed this is a “crazy situation” as Minister Donohoe’s role involves him working with SIPO and criticised that SIPO cannot investigate independently.
Stone, the CEO of The Designer Group, a local engineering company in Minister Donohoe’s constituency, provided donations to the Minister in the 2016 General Election for over €1,100.
Labour TD Gerald Nash also criticised the Minister for Public Expenditure, claiming that Donohoe has broken the rules “not once, but twice.”
Speaking to reporters on the plinth of Leinster House, Deputy Nash pointed out that Minister Donohoe was the National Director of Elections for Fine Gael in 2020.
Minister Donohoe did not correctly report a 2016 donation to SIPO which caused outrage from oppositional parties. Minister Donohoe issued his second apology for the incident last Tuesday.