Man fails in appeal against election expenses conviction

Diarmuid Ó Cadhla did not file returns as he believed legislation was discriminatory

Unsuccessful general election candidate Diarmuid Ó Cadhla has failed in his appeal against conviction for failing to file a list of donations with the Standards in Public Office Commission.

Unsuccessful general election candidate Diarmuid Ó Cadhla has failed in his appeal against conviction for failing to file a list of donations with the Standards in Public Office Commission.

 

An unsuccessful general election candidate has failed in his appeal against conviction for failing to file a list of donations with the Standards in Public Office Commission.

Diarmuid Ó Cadhla had been fined €300 by Judge Olan Kelleher at Cork District Court in December 2014 for failing to make the returns to the body supervising electoral matters.

He had failed to file the returns within 56 days of the 2011 general election in which he ran for the People’s Convention in Cork South Central and received 508 votes.

Ó Cadhla from Upper Beaumont Drive, Ballintemple, Cork on Tuesday appealed his conviction to Cork Circuit Court where he argued that the legislation was flawed.

Jacqueline Moore of the Standards in Public Office Commission testified that all candidates had to declare donations in excess of €634.87 received for election purposes.

She also said that the legislation requires all candidates to declare all election expenditure within 56 days of polling day and file a return for that expenditure to the office.

Ó Cadhla confirmed that he had not filed the returns within the 56 day period as he believed the legislation was discriminatory and he wanted to clear his name after his conviction.

“I am standing up for what I believe in - I have been hammered and my good name has been taken because of it (his conviction),” he said.

Ó Cadhla went on to argue the legislation was discriminatory against non party candidates like himself in favour of political parties which he described as “private clubs”.

The legislation did not take account of donations including those from the State and the EU made to political parties on an ongoing basis long before an election is ever called, he said.

He also argued that he was discriminated against as a non-party candidate in that political parties were able to expend money on developing their logos for use on ballot papers.

Ms Moore confirmed that ballot papers were not an election expense as they did not fall within the provisions of the Electoral Act of 1997.

Judge Donagh McDonagh said Section 24 of the Electoral Act did not discriminate in favour of political parties as the act required all candidates to declare all election donations.

It required political parties and individuals to declare all such donations whenever they were received and not just those received after an election has been called, he said

“It seems to me on the evidence that the state has made out its case as set out in the act - there is no issue between the sides in that Mr O’Cadhla admits he did not fill out the form.

“As such, he is in breach of the law relating to Dáil elections,” said Judge McDonagh as he confirmed the original penalty of €300 fine or five days in prison in default of payment.