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Fianna Fáil proposes referendum on political donations rights

Fianna Fáil will tonight table a Bill moving a referendum so that people without voting rights cannot donate or campaign.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Updated, 20.04

FIANNA FÁIL WILL tonight table a Bill that would call for a referendum creating a constitutional ban on political donations or campaigning on the part of people who are not entitled to vote in an election.

The Bill – which forms part of the party’s Political Donations Bill, set for debate in the Dáil tonight and tomorrow – would insert a clause in Article 29 of the constitution, requiring a public referendum in order to be fully passed.

The proposal would give a constitutional basis to caps on political donations, and declares that only the people who are allowed to vote an election or referendum should be entitled to donate to political organisations, or to engage in campaigning.

The proposal allows for a cap on political donations to be created by law – as currently exists.

The Fianna Fáil Bill being considered by the Dáil this evening and tomorrow gives legal effect to the recommendations of the Moriarty Tribunal, and lowers the current legal limits for donations to parties and politicians.

Fianna Fáil says the bill will effectively end corporate donations to political parties – with companies being required to hold a general meeting in order to approve donations greater than €100 in value.

This evening in the Dáil, Martin said he “deeply regretted” his own party’s “unedifying and frankly unacceptable abuses” of fundraising in the past, but was determined that such fundraising would be “neither tolerated nor possible” under his watch.

The proposed referendum text in full:

Article 29A [to be inserted after the current Article 29]

Only citizens and such other persons in the State as may be determined by law who have the right to vote at any election or referendum referred to in this Constitution, including an election to the European Parliament but excluding elections to Seanad Eireann by the Universities as provided for in Article 18.4, shall be entitled to make political donations to organisations or people involved in political campaigning. The limits upon and declaration of such political donations shall be prescribed by law.

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Gavan Reilly

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