Thursday 14 December 2017

City councillors take over €20k from donations

Dermot Lacey. Picture: Martin Nolan
Dermot Lacey. Picture: Martin Nolan

Eleven Dublin city councillors have declared donations of more than €20,000 in total for 2014.

Some of the donations were for political purposes and others were listed as private. Of the 11 councillors that declared donations, three lost their seats in last May's local elections.

Dublin city councillors had to declare all donations exceeding €600. If they knowingly provide false information it could result in a fine of €3,000, a six-month prison term or both.

Labour councillors Mary Freehill and Dermot Lacey both declared the highest donations, of €3,800 and €3,810 respectively.

Both councillors told the Herald that the monies related to election literature from last May and came from their local Labour office.

"Any donations I received were recorded and were for election expenditure costs," Mr Lacey said.

Ms Freehill had listed that her donation of €3,800 was for election purposes, but had a line drawn through this declaration.

"Regarding the issue about the line - it's that I didn't receive any private donation exceeding €600 but felt that I should include the contribution from my Labour Party constituency council which all my Labour colleagues in my electoral area also received. I was just making sure that I was compliant in every way.


"I do think it's worth making a point about money spent on elections - candidates are free to spend as much as they wish up until a period before polling day. In my case, I didn't spend any money on bus stop advertising and had less posters, unlike many other candidates in my electoral area," Ms Freehill said.

Fine Gael's Kate O'Connell declared a donation for €1,000 and listed the donor as a city centre hotel. The donor was named as Eileen Wright, of Russell Court Hotel on Harcourt Street.

She explained that, "it was a personal donation".

Similar to Ms Freehill and Mr Lacey, the Green Party's Claire Byrne also listed donations that were for election purposes.

Ms Byrne declared a donation of €1,401.66.

"The donation was contributed by the Dublin Bay South Green Party for election expenses and I have, as per my declaration, submitted a statement to the council to indicate this. These were for expenses I incurred during the election which were reimbursed to me during this donations period," she said.

Other councillors declaring expenses included Labour's Brendan Carr, independent Cieran Perry and Brid Smith for People Before Profit.

Councillors Smith and Perry each received €1,000 from Unite the Union.

"I had to sign an agreement with the union that I would support their policies, like anti- austerity, for example, and that was the basis that I got the donation on. I'm very proud of that," said Mr Perry.

Ms Smith also said she was proud of the donation she had received and that the union was in line with the values of her party.

"The donation was received from my union Unite in response to my appeal for endorsement and support.

"Unite's endorsement and donation was contingent on my support for the Union's policies on the economy, jobs and equality," she said.


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