Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe must “make a comprehensive statement” about donations made to his campaign during the 2016 general election, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Louise O’Reilly TD has said.
It emerged over the weekend that Mr Donohoe did not declare all services paid for during his 2016 campaign, leading him to recuse himself from some of his ministerial duties on Sunday as he apologised for his “mistakes” regarding the matter.
The Minister did not amend the record in 2017 or in November last year when asked about campaign work done on his behalf, Ms O’Reilly told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland.
“We want to hear from the Minister why it took him that long to contact his friend to get the information about the campaign work carried out on his behalf,” Ms O’Reilly said.
“I want to know why he didn’t amend the record in 2017, why, as recently as last November, he was saying ‘there’s nothing to see here’. I want to know why it took three months for him to contact his friend to find out about that campaign work that was done on his behalf, and we want to know about those workers – who were they working for?
“We’re talking about six people putting up over 1,000 posters, four nights’ work. My understanding probably three putting them up, one taking them down, and it’s clear that a donation was made and it wasn’t declared.
“We need to hear from the Minister as to whether or not he is satisfied that a donation wasn’t made to his campaign, because to me it was the Minister’s face on the posters, it was the Minister’s campaign and the donation was made to his campaign.”
Ms O’Reilly said it “stretched credibility” that the Minister did not consider the contribution as a donation, explaining there are strict rules around election campaigns, which the Minister knew.
“To me, it’s baffling to think that a donation would be made in the teeth of an election campaign providing campaign work that somehow it’s not considered an election expense.
“I’m looking for the Minister to come out today and make a comprehensive statement and address those questions that he failed to address at the hastily convened press conference yesterday,” Ms O’Reilly added.
Meanwhile, Labour TD Ged Nash joined the calls for Mr Donohoe to come before the Dáil and offer a detailed explanation of the matter.
Mr Nash told RTÉ Radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show that the situation was more serious than the Minister adhering to the letter of the law. The spirit of the law was important too and Ministers had to lead by example, he added.
Mr Donohoe will have to take the situation “very seriously” and offer a full statement to the Dáil. The issue had not helped the public’s faith in politicians, Mr Nash said.
There were questions that needed to be answered, including how the Minister came up with the amount he conferred on the services provided for the purpose of his expenses.
On the same programme, Minister of State Neale Richmond said the Minister had indicated he was prepared to answer questions and had apologised.
The situation over the past few days was “far from ideal”, but pointed out that Mr Donohoe has recused himself from policy decisions in relation to ethics legislation.
Mr Nash agreed that the Minister had made the right decision in recusing himself from Standards in Public Office (Sipo) dealings, but reforms in this area could not wait.