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TD claims use of pre-paid Oireachtas envelopes for campaign launch wasn't deliberate

John Halligan said if he made a mistake he will repay the money.

19/1/2016. Independent Alliance Motions John Halligan Source: Leah Farrell

AN INDEPENDENT TD has claimed his use of pre-paid Oireachtas envelopes to send out invitations to his election campaign launch later this week was not deliberate.

TDs and Senators have repeatedly been advised not to use Oireachtas stationery for election purposes prior to the campaign officially getting underway.

John Halligan, who is aligned with the Independent Alliance, has admitted that around 30 invitations to his general election campaign launch in Waterford’s Granville Hotel this Friday were sent to constituents in pre-paid Oireachtas envelopes.

However, he also revealed that some invitations were included with responses to constituents’ queries which were also sent in the pre-paid envelopes.

Halligan’s campaign will be launched by his fellow independent TD Shane Ross and the broadcaster Eamon Dunphy, who has been involved with the Independent Alliance.

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Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Halligan said that he had run out of a box of normal envelopes to send the invitations out in and so used around 30 of the Oireachtas ones.

TDs receive around 250 pre-paid envelopes from Leinster House authorities every month. Halligan said:

It was an invite to a public meeting so I didn’t see the issue. I don’t use anything from the Oireachtas once the election is called, but if I have broken any rules then I will pay the money back. It was not deliberate.

Halligan said he was checking with authorities to establish whether any rules had been broken.

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In guidance issued last November, the Standards in Public Office Commission said clearly:

The Standards Commission has advised that, in advance of the dissolution of the Dáíl, TDs and Senators should not use Oireachtas envelopes (or other facilities) for electoral purposes in connection with the forthcoming general elections for Dail Éireann and Seanad Éireann, in respect of their own candidature, as these facilities have been provided to them arising out of their duties as public representatives. Neither should they provide these facilities to other candidates for electoral or any other purpose.

Similar guidance was issued in May 2014 during the local and European elections.

This was after it emerged that independent TD Clare Daly had used pre-paid envelopes to canvass for votes. Her officials later admitted the error and repaid the money.

The use of Oireachtas facilities, including envelopes, during the election period is allowed, but TDs and Senators are required to repay the cost of what they use to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.

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Hugh O'Connell

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