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New guidelines reduce maximum donations to political parties

The guidelines also address corporate donations to parties and include strict rules on transparency.

Image: Money in envelope image via Shutterstock

THE STANDARDS IN Public Office Commission has published a series of  guidelines dealing with the changes introduced by amendments to the Electoral Act 2012 on political funding.

The provisions, which came into effect on 1 January apply to members of, and candidates seeking election to, the Dáil, Seanad, European Parliament and local authorities to political parties, third parties and candidates at a Presidential election.

Included in the provisions are:

  • A reduction in the maximum donation that can be accepted by an individual elected representative or candidate from €2,539.47 to €1,000 and by a political party, accounting unit or third party from €6,348.69 to €2,500;
  • The introduction of a ban on accepting corporate donations of more than €200 from a corporate donor unless the donor has registered with the Standards in Public Office Commission and a statement is furnished to the recipient confirming that the donation has been approved by the members, shareholders or trustees of the corporate donor concerned;
  • A reduction in the maximum amount that can be accepted as an anonymous donation from €126.97  to €100. The same reduction also applies to the threshold for opening a political donations account. The definition of a ‘third party’ and ‘accounting unit’ has also changed and these bodies will now be recognised as such upon receipt of a donation that exceeds €100. The previous figure was €126.97;
  • A ban on the acceptance of any cash donation over €200;
  • Where a donation is given through an intermediary, the identity of the person on whose behalf the donation is made will have to be provided to the recipient. It will now be an offence to fail to provide this information.

Further measures reducing the threshold at which donations must be declared on a donation statement to the Standards Commission by an individual, elected representative or candidate from €634.87 to €600 will come into effect on 1 February.

Additional information must be included on a donation statement indicating whether the donation was solicited, along with the name of the person soliciting the donation, whether a receipt was given and the date the donation was given and received. There is also a provision for a reduction in the threshold from €5,078.95 to €1,500 in the aggregate amount that a donor can give to multiple candidates of the same party before being required to submit a donation statement to the Standards in Public Office Commission.

In April a provision will come into operation reducing the threshold for declaring donations received by a political party from €5,078.95 to €1,500.

Finally, coming into operation on the 7 November 2013 a provision of the Act will reduce from €5,078.95 to €200 the threshold at which donations must be reported by a company, trade union, society or building society in its annual report or return to the Registrar of Companies or Registrar of Friendly Societies.

Read: Noonan rejects Moriarty recommendation on tax relief for political donations>
Read: Charity sees 16 per cent increase in donations to needy in 2012>

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