Dáil ethics committees not to take action against Clare Daly over envelopes use

Independent TD Clare Daly’s staff used some 500 pre-paid Oireachtas envelopes to canvass for candidates she supported in the local elections

Independent TD Clare Daly’s staff used some 500 pre-paid Oireachtas envelopes to canvass for candidates she supported in the local elections

Thu, Jun 19, 2014, 09:27

The Dáil’s ethics committee has decided not to pursue any action against Independent TD Clare Daly for using some 500 pre-paid Oireachtas envelopes to canvass for candidates she supported in the local elections.

The Committee on Members’ Interests did note that her use of the envelopes – albeit inadvertently in breach of protocols – was inconsistent with the proper performance of a deputy’s functions and with the maintenance of confidence in such performance.

It ruled that her explanation and full reimbursement of the cost did not constitute a matter of significant public importance and concluded that no action would be taken against the deputy.

Support for candidates

Staff in Ms Daly’s office had sent out “no more than 500” envelopes in advance of the local elections in May seeking support for certain candidates. When it was brought to the attention of the deputy for Dublin North that such use of Oireachtas envelopes might contravene the Ethics in Public Office Act, she contacted the Standards in Public Office Commission. The commission referred her on to the Committee of Members’ Interests of Dáil Éireann chaired by Donegal South West TD Thomas Pringle. It decided to carry out an investigation to determine whether or not Ms Daly had carried out a “specified act” in breach of the legislation.

Investigation

Unusually, the investigation was not prompted by a complaint from a member of the public – accompanied by physical evidence of the alleged misuse, such as an envelope. It started on foot of a request for advice from Ms Daly.

In a letter to the clerk of the committee earlier this month, Ms Daly said she had not used more than 500 pre-paid Oireachtas envelopes when canvassing. She said her staff had not been aware of the different protocols that applied during an election. She also said she intended to repay the amount or have the amount deducted from her future allowance for pre-paid Oireachtas envelopes.

The committee, chaired by Mr Pringle, met in private on June 11th to consider the matter. At that meeting last week, it noted the seriousness of any misuse of Oireachtas envelopes. The committee concluded that the explanation given by Ms Daly and the fact that she had reimbursed the costs did not make it a matter of “significant public importance”.

Accordingly, it decided that Ms Daly had not committed a “specified act” and no action would be taken.

Ms Daly was not contactable for comment on the ruling yesterday.