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€600k in leftover funding used to 'manipulate taxpayer', Creighton claims

Denied by Minister Howlin, she said money earmarked for TDs who are no longer Fine Gael or Labour parliamentary members would be used to make the public ‘vote in a particular way’.

Lucinda Creighton pictured at the Reform Conference.
Lucinda Creighton pictured at the Reform Conference.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE GOVERNMENT HAS been accused of planning to ‘manipulate taxpayers to vote in a particular way’ using funds it still receives for expelled TDs, or TDs that have left coalition parties.

Deputy Lucinda Creighton told the Dáil last night that “almost €600,000 in top-ups is being paid by the taxpayer to the headquarters” of Fine Gael and Labour.

However, a government minister said that it is now lawful for public funding to be used in elections.

“This money has been allocated to the party in my name and those of my colleagues,” she said.

“We are no longer members of the parliamentary party because we have been expelled and some of us are no longer members of the party at all.”

The remarks were made last night during a debate on the Oireachtas Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices Amendment Bill 2013.

If passed, it could mean a ten per cent cut in allowances for party leaders and independent politicians, amounting to a saving of almost €840,000 a year.

Any unspent money will be repaid.

Creighton also accused the government of becoming caught up in an ‘unacceptable’ stand-off with Standards in Public Office Commission over how funds are collected for elections.

“The vast majority of the fund-raising carried out by political parties is done by individual branches throughout the country,” she said, calling it an “obvious way” to avoid transparency.

Expelled

In the cutting exchange, Creighton detailed that the extra funding amounts to €300,00 for six expelled Fine Gael TDs and €284,000 for four Labour deputies who have left the party.

She claimed that a senior source within Fine Gael informed her that the party would use this money in elections.

“That is a complete manipulation and distortion of the democratic process which obtains in this country,” she said.

Minister for Public Expenditure later responded to similar queries from deputies that “one cannot use public money for election purposes”.

“It is not lawful”, he said.

Creighton added that it was “repulsive” that Exchequer funding for political parties had increased despite other budgetary cuts.

Explained: This is how the government plans to tackle the politicians’ allowance bill >

Reform Alliance: 9 things we learned from their ‘monster meeting’ >

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Nicky Ryan

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