James Reilly referred to Garda by Sipo over election donation

Fine Gael deputy leader one of 66 election candidates referred by ethics watchdog

Dr James Reilly:  “I apologise. It is nobody else’s fault but myself.  I put my hands up. I forgot to give a receipt.”   Photograph: Alan Betson

Dr James Reilly: “I apologise. It is nobody else’s fault but myself. I put my hands up. I forgot to give a receipt.” Photograph: Alan Betson


Fine Gael deputy leader James Reilly has been referred to gardaí by the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo). The State ethics watchdog confirmed that it has sent details of 66 general election 2016 candidates to gardaí for failing to return the required statutory documentation.

Under rules set by Sipo, candidates can accept €1,000 from a donor in a calendar year but only €200 in cash. Dr Reilly, who was appointed as a Senator by Taoiseach Enda Kenny last year, accepted a €1,000 cash donation but had failed to demonstrate that the excess amount of €800 had been returned, Sipo said.

Dr Reilly said he had delegated some of the work when serving as a Minister and admitted the oversight was his fault. The former minister for children said he had forgotten to give the receipt but insisted he had handed the €800 back.

“I apologise. It is nobody else’s fault but myself,” he told RTÉ radio yesterday. “I put my hands up. I forgot to give a receipt.” Dr Reilly said the donor was a friend and neighbour and he was sorry if the man in question was now going to be “dragged into a public controversy”. He added that if the donor had given him a cheque, “this wouldn’t have been a problem”.

Full list of candidates referred to gardaí (p.9-p.12)

“I only found out about the Sipo ruling about 20 minutes ago when my wife phoned me in my surgery.” Dr Reilly lost his Dáil seat in Dublin Fingal.

Sipo has also referred to the Garda Carol Hunt, who is a special adviser to Minister for Transport Shane Ross but ran as a candidate for the Independent Alliance in Dún Laoghaire.This is for failing to complete her election expenses statement appropriately. Ms Hunt also ran in the Seanad elections and was referred to the Garda again for failing to provide the necessary information to Sipo.

Figures released by Sipo show that Fine Gael spent €2.77million on the general election. This included €440,000 on advertising and €252,747 on market research. The party lost 20 seats in the campaign, which has been heavily criticised.

Fianna Fáil spent €1.69 million and the Labour Party spent €1.08 million. Sinn Féin spent just over €650,000. Renua spent €24,847 , the Social Democrats’ spend was almost double at €46,583, while the Communist Party of Ireland spent €4,300. Sipo also confirmed that the Pro-Life Campaign spent €40,311.03 during the election.

The constituency with the biggest spend was Tipperary, with its candidates spending €263,133.33. The national spend for all parties was €2,205,379, which is in addition to the constituency election expenditure, totalling €6,188,956 as disclosed by candidates’ election agents and the national agents of political parties.

The watchdog also published details of the Seanad election campaign, confirming that 24 candidates had been referred to the Garda. Former Fine Gael TD James Bannon, chief executive of the Rape Crisis Network Ellen O’Malley Dunlop and former Fine Gael Senators Pat O’Neill and Michael Comiskey did not provide the necessary information to the commission.