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Noonan rejects Moriarty recommendation on tax relief for political donations

The finance minister says lower limits on the amount individuals can donate will limit the impact that high earners can have.

The final report of the Moriarty Tribunal, published in March 2011, recommended tax reliefs on political donations in order to limit the influence of higher spenders.
The final report of the Moriarty Tribunal, published in March 2011, recommended tax reliefs on political donations in order to limit the influence of higher spenders.
Image: Eleanor Keegan/Photocall Ireland

THE MINISTER FOR FINANCE has said he has opted against following a recommendation from the Moriarty Tribunal on allowing political donations to be tax deductible.

Justice Michael Moriarty’s final report, published in March 2011, recommended that tax relief be offered on any donations to politicians or to political parties, up to a limited threshold.

This was because “major vested interests may be disproportionately capable, by means of their greater financial resources, of influencing political activity”.

Explaining his suggestion in his final report, Moriarty said the move would encourage a wider variety of people to make smaller donations and therefore “reduce the dependency of political life on funding from wealthy donors”.

The recommendation has now been dismissed by Michael Noonan, however, who believes the goal of limiting the influence of big spenders has already been achieved.

In response to written parliamentary questions from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Noonan said recent changes to political donations limits meant it was illegal for individual politicians to accept any more than €1,000 from a donor in any one year, or for parties to take more than €2,500.

Under the legislation introduced last year which is better known for enforcing gender quotas in political parties, any donation of over €600 to an individual politician, or donations of over €1,500 to a political party, must be disclosed to the Standards in Public Office Commission.

“These limits, in themselves, should act to deter any attempts by wealthy individuals to influence political activity,” Noonan said,

The Moriarty Tribunal issued its final reports in March 2011, 14 years after it was established to look into the financial affairs of Charles Haughey and Michael Lowry, after reports that the two had received substantial donations from businessmen including Ben Dunne.

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