Monday 24 October 2016

Jobs Minister refunds State after envelope controversy

Richard Bruton
Richard Bruton

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton has been forced to refund the taxpayer after using Dail facilities to promote the annual Fine Gael super draw, the Herald can reveal.

The Dublin TD sent letters to constituents in Oireachtas envelopes which request funds to help the party fight the General Election.

The decision to send the letters and tickets for the draw in Oireachtas envelopes is against the rules laid down by the Ethics Watchdog Sipo. Oireachtas envelopes are provided to Oireachtas members in respect of their duties as public representatives and must not be used for other purposes (e.g. electoral or party purposes).

The Standards Commission has also stated that the supply of such facilities to others in any circumstances is inappropriate," a Sipo spokesman told this newspaper.

A copy of the letter which has been seen by the Herald, states: "We must help the poor and those in pain and difficulty. That will be done only on the basis of a sound, growing economy. For all these reasons we want to get into government again.

"We need funds to fight the next election and achieve this goal. You can help by buying a ticket in the Superdraw. The draw provides the core funding for the General Election and the constituency shares in the revenue," it adds.

Mr Bruton tells constituents that the tickets are priced at €80. But any decision to pay by direct debit gives members two entries in the draw, he says.

A spokesman for Mr Bruton said he has made a refund to the Oireachtas.

"This issue arose as a result of an oversight in the Minister's office. The Minister's office has initiated contact with Sipo and the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission in the past day seeking clarification of the situation, and subsequently information on precisely how to proceed in order to rectify the situation and fully reimburse any costs involved.

"The Minister has now written to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission and made a refund in this regard," the spokesman added.

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