Fianna Fáil’s €1.2m debt will be paid by 2015
TD-less Roscommon raises most party funds
Micheál Martin, at the Fianna Fáil ardfheis. During a session on party finances at the ardfheis, financial controller David Burke said the party’s debt was currently at €1.2 million, down from €1.7 million last year and Fianna Fáil was required to repay €500,000 every year.
The party wants to build a “war chest” of €1.5 million for next year’s local and European elections and a further €2 million for the general election expected in 2016.
And it emerged that Roscommon, which does not have a TD, raised the largest amount of money for the party of any county or constituency, collecting almost €40,000 through the annual super draw and national or church gate collection last year.
Fianna Fáil has also developed a new funding stream through its membership fee. For the first time, the party is charging an annual membership of €20. With a stated 20,000 members it expects the full effects of the policy – €400,000 – to be shown in the 2013 accounts. Its 2012 figures show membership fee income of €67,232 since it was introduced last July.
The decision to charge a fee is in line with party policy to move to the principle of one person one vote rather than have the voting based on cumainn or local party organisations, which the party said would increase transparency.
During a session on party finances at the ardfheis, financial controller David Burke said the party’s debt was currently at €1.2 million, down from €1.7 million last year and Fianna Fáil was required to repay €500,000 every year.
They were on the path to a more sustainable funding through the membership fee, their national draw and collection. “Small donations received from a large number of people, that’s essentially how the party intends funding itself into the future,” Mr Burke said, adding that more than 90 per cent of donations were now less than €50.
A summary of the party’s accounts were provided in the ardfheis clár or programme along with the 2011 and 2012 funding from each county/constituency through their annual draw and national collection. Funding from the super draw, where tickets are €50, rose from €531,750 in 2011 to €574,750 last year while the annual national collection raised almost €210,000 last year, an increase of over €28,000 on the previous year.
Fianna Fáil also receives €1.167 million a year in Exchequer funding based on the first preference votes received in the last general election and the number of TDs elected. Funding for the party dropped 60 per cent after the 2011 election and with the 10 per cent reduction in the leaders’ allowance the party lost a further €167,000.
One delegate asked if the party was happy with internal controls for money collected through fundraising. Limerick TD Niall Collins, an honorary treasurer, said the party was like any other voluntary organisation such as the GAA and the Vincent de Paul in its fundraising, relying on its members. There were inherent controls when people acted to protect their good name by ensuring they counted money with others. Mr Burke said a receipt was sent to every person who bought a ticket for the superdraw. This ensured the funding was received.