Sinn Féin suspends attacks on Donohoe after holes are found in its own Irish election spending – POLITICO
DUBLIN — Ireland’s Sinn Féin suspended aggressive efforts to oust Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe from office on Thursday after the opposition party’s campaign against the Eurogroup chairman ended up casting an unwanted spotlight on its own accounts.
Irish Republicans were widely expected to demand a parliamentary vote of confidence in Donohoe who, until this week’s admission of trouble in his 2016 and 2020 election results, had barely a stain on his government record. But Sinn Féin lawmakers backtracked after meeting behind closed doors inside the parliament building, Leinster House.
The reversal followed two accusations-filled debates which, while tarnishing Donohoe’s reputation for probity, also sparked media interest in whether Sinn Féin’s own election accounting was in order.
Journalists did not have to look far beyond Sinn Fein’s biggest public election events to uncover suspicious and botched failures in the party’s spending records at several elections.
They found missing sums from Sinn Féin much larger than those from Donohoe, whose undeclared reliance on a business friend to erect campaign posters produced, according to Donohoe’s calculations, a €234 breach of limits election spending in 2020 and no violations in 2016. Opposition politicians dispute these figures. also deceptively low.
The Irish Independent has checked whether Sinn Féin has reported rental costs for half a dozen venues for its highest-profile campaign events in 2016. Not a penny appeared in the statements. When Sinn Féin failed to respond to inquiries, the Independent contacted the venues directly – and learned that one, the Royal Irish Academy, had never been paid the €600 owed.
The Irish Times has found its own accounting holes in Sinn Fein’s reported spending for the 2019 European Parliament and the 2020 general election.
Unlike other Irish parties, Sinn Féin’s traditional power base is in the neighboring British region of Northern Ireland. The Irish Times found that at least some of its expenses in the Republic of Ireland had been incurred north of the border and had been mislabeled in euros, not the more expensive British pounds. Mistakes like these slashed his spending records in 2020 by €945.
The Irish Times previously revealed that Sinn Féin failed to report €7,000 spent on the work of a UK polling agency ahead of the 2020 vote.
Sinn Féin called the undeclared donations linked to the Donohoe posters a deliberate concealment, but called all of its own errors detected accidental. The party said it would amend its previous financial reporting to the Public Service Standards Commission, which is supposed to ensure compliance with spending rules during elections and party fundraising, but which rarely takes effective measures.
Defending fellow Fine Gael party in Parliament, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar accused Sinn Féin of drawing millions in donations from supporters based in the US and UK to distort fair political competition in the Republic of Ireland, which is trying to set much stricter limits on elections. expenses.
Senator Michael McDowell, a former justice minister and attorney general, called Sinn Féin’s position on the ethics of political fundraising “grotesque” and “laughable”.
“Sinn Féin operates at a level and with resources that no other part of this island can match,” McDowell wrote. “And because it operates in more than one jurisdiction, it does not lend itself to our system of regulating political donations.”