FF did not declare Glencullen donation

 

A €9,330 donation to Fianna Fáil from Renault distributor Glencullen Holdings in 2005 was not mentioned in any of the party's statutory declarations for that year with the Standards in Public Office Commission.

The commission, which is the public ethics watchdog, indicated yesterday evening that it would look into the matter.

"The commission would recognise that there may be questions to be asked and would make relevant inquiries. I wouldn't jump to conclusions," said a spokesman.

The payment to Fianna Fáil is listed under "political donations" in the directors' report for the company, whose chairman and controlling shareholder, Bill Cullen, is a well-known supporter of the party.

A spokesman for Glencullen said that Mr Cullen took tables in the party's tent at the Galway Races and participated in golf events which raised funds for the organisation. He had done so for many years, the spokesman said.

The 2005 donation from the company does not feature in the party's annual declaration of donations or in the declarations of its TDs, senators and MEPs.

A Fianna Fáil spokeswoman said that the party's statutory declarations were fully compliant with the legislation on donations. "The party's accounts have been fully audited and all our returns are in compliance with the legislation, which is independently overseen by the Standards in Public Office Commission," she said.

The spokeswoman declined to make any comment on specific donations or donors. It is believed, however, that the money may have been used to meet the cost of staging a fund-raising event. Only the profit that the party makes on such an event must be included in its statutory declarations.

This means that there is no obligation on the party to declare publicly certain donations above the statutory threshold of €5,078.95. While the maximum permissible donation in a single year under the Electoral Acts is €6,348.69, the same rule with respect to the profit element of a fund-raising event applies.

A donation from a company above the €6,348 limit does not need to be declared by a party if the entire sum above €5,079 was used to pay the cost of a fundraising activity.

Last week the standards commission called for new laws requiring parties to declare all donations after a number of parties reported no disclosable donations for 2006. The commission said that a fresh approach was needed to allow for "increased transparency" and "greater scrutiny" of party expenditure.