Ó Snodaigh defends use of Dáil ink

 

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary-Lou McDonald this afternoon described her party colleague Aengus Ó Snodaigh’s use of hundreds of printer cartridges worth over €50,000 from Dáil stationery stores as "excessive".

Asked if she could guarantee that Mr Ó Snodaigh used the cartridges to print information for use in his own constituency only, Ms McDonald said she could. "I think by any standards €50,000 is excessive for that purpose," she added.

It was reported today the Dublin-South Central TD had taken 434 printer cartridges from the Dáil over a two-year period. The report, which valued the cartridges at €130 each, said 215 were taken in 2007 while another 219 were taken in 2008.

The total value of the cartridges was put at over €50,600 over the two years.

Printer cartridges were available free of charge to TDs and Senators up until 2009 when restrictions were introduced on their use.

Speaking this morning, Mr Ó Snodaigh defended his use of the ink, saying the cartridges were used to print party leaflets. He told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that he “would have been known as the most prolific leafleters in the country, within the party”.

Mr Ó Snodaigh said his office had “tens of thousands” of leaflets delivered to homes on a weekly basis. “You’d have leaflets, advertisements, protests against the proposed closure of Crumlin Children’s Hospital, leaflets making people aware of different activities in the area,” he said.

The report in the Irish Daily Mail said Mr Ó Snodaigh’s cartridge use had alarmed Leinster House officials prompting them to raise the matter with their superiors.

“Hindsight’s a great thing – it looks excessive, but the amount of material I was printing was at that scale, and it was being delivered door to door in that scale," Mr Ó Snodaigh said this morning. “I think the constituents were grateful of the information that was given. Nobody ever raised with me, in Leinster House, the cost of it or that it was excessive, or anything else."

He said he did not give the Sinn Féin party any cartridges as he used “all" of them either in his constituency office or for constituency material. Mr Ó Snodaigh insisted the cartridges were not used for electioneering - which would have constituted a breach of regulation under Dáil rules.

Acknowledging that he owes the House a sum of €3,700 for charges associated with his use of printer cartridges since 2009, Mr Ó Snodaigh said Oireachtas officials had contacted him in the past to remind him of his debt but that he had not got around to paying it. “It’s due, it will be paid,” he added.

He did not say if he will pay back any of the €50,000 for cartridges.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has called for an investigation into how so many printer cartridges were used and what it was used for. He said Sinn Fin should be held to account for running up such a bill when other TDs manage to keep their usage in check. “It needs to be investigated, there is no doubt this is an extraordinary amount,” said Mr Martin.