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Almost €10 million spent by general election 2011 candidates

Fine Gael came out on top of the election expenses list, reporting that its candidates spent over €3.1m on their campaigns.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

GENERAL ELECTION candidates across the state have disclosed election expenditure of €9.28 million for the February campaign.

A report from the Standards in Public Office Commission to the Ceann Comhairle says that this figure is down 16 per cent on the €11.08 million disclosed in 2007. There were 100 more candidates in this year’s election than in the 1997 campaign, as 566 people ran for the Dáil in 2011.

The election period ran from 1 February 2011, when the Dáil was dissolved, until votes were cast on 25 February.

Fine Gael declared the highest expenditure among its candidates at €3,120,238, while the Workers Party declared the lowest amount, on €11,987. The report lists election expenditure as follows:

  • Fine Gael – €3,120,238
  • Fianna Fáil – €2,138,793
  • Labour – €1,956,813
  • Non-Party –  €1,141,176
  • Sinn Féin – €496,928
  • Green Party – €241,789
  • Socialist Party – €85,124
  • People Before Profit Alliance – €47,757
  • Christian Solidarity – €20,114
  • South Kerry Independent Alliance – €15,347
  • Workers Party – €11,987

The maximum amount a political party can accept from the same donor in one year is €6,348.69.

Over 320 candidates qualified for the reimbursement of election expenses and over €2.5 million has been earmarked for return.

Referrals to gardaí

The commission says it has referred 23 files to the gardaí over election agents who failed to return election expenses statements for the February election as required under the Electoral Act 1997.

The commission says that no candidate – either successful or unsuccessful – has been deemed to have exceeded expenditure limits, which were set for the election at €30,150 for three-seater constituencies, €37,650 for four-seaters, and €45,200 for a five-seater.

Meanwhile, the report says that 102 unsuccessful candidates disclosed donations totalling €285,618, with independent candidates Martin Daly of Mayo reporting the highest donations at €17,166 and Dylan Haskins of Dublin South East reporting €14,098. Larry O’Toole, who ran for Sinn Féin in Dublin North East, disclosed the third-highest donations at €10,691, while independent Mannix Flynn disclosed donations of €9,097.

The commission said earlier this year that the level of donations disclosed by political parties last year was the lowest since the law requiring the disclosure began in 1997.

It also says that the use of public funds for electoral purposes is a “major issue”, recommending that access to Oireachtas facilities should cease upon the Dáil’s dissolution because Dáil services and staff are being used for electoral purposes.

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