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Businessman Michael Stone confirms he assisted Paschal Donohoe during 2020 election campaign

Stone paid six workers €972 to hang posters in Donohoe’s Dublin Central constituency.

LAST UPDATE | Jan 24th 2023, 3:15 PM

BUSINESSMAN MICHAEL STONE has said that he provided workers and vans to assist Paschal Donohoe during his 2020 General Election campaign.

In a statement this morning, Stone confirmed that he provided six workers and vans to assist Donohoe’s campaign with hanging posters in his Dublin Central constituency.

In addition, Stone announced that he would be resigning from his board roles on both the North East Inner City Programme Implementation Board and the Land Development Agency.

Donohoe is due to address the Dáil later today and will take questions from opposition TDs on the matter.

Stone, the head of the Designer Group, said that work was carried out by the six individuals over five days, both before and after polling day, at a cost of €972. The commercial value of the vans used totalled €434.20.

He added that Donohoe had contacted him last December to inquire whether or not help was provided in 2020. However, Stone said that he “mistakenly” believed that he had not provided assistance.

“In December 2022, Paschal asked me whether I had provided such help with the 2020 election. I mistakenly believed that I had not and told him so. On Wednesday, 18th January 2023, I again confirmed to him my mistaken recollection,” Stone said.

“When I heard later that day that the 2020 election had been raised in the Dail, I had the matter re-checked and discovered that my recollection was wrong and that, in fact, similar assistance had been given with postering in the 2020 election.

“I immediately contacted Paschal and told him so and apologised for my mistake.”

5 File Photo Paschal Donohoe Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe Leah Farrell Leah Farrell

Stone added that the campaign assistance was organised through a member of Fine Gael within Dublin Central and that he had not contacted Donohoe directly.

“I deeply regret any embarrassment that I have caused Paschal for my mistaken recollection in relation to 2020 and for what I thought was modest help for a hardworking honest politician.”

Stone added that he would be resigning from his board position on the Land Development Agency and his chairmanship of the North East Inner City Programme Implementation Board.

“The work of both bodies is very important and I do not wish this unrelated controversy to be a distraction in any way from their work.”

Leaders’ Questions

During Leaders’ Questions this afternoon, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald hit out at Donohoe over the controversy, saying that it “carries the stench of cronyism and favours for insiders”.

She said that with Stone’s latest revelations, Donohoe had failed to declare two donations in back-to-back election campaigns.

McDonald alleged that Donohoe had misled the Dáil last week during his statement and questioned whether or not Taoiseach Leo Varadkar accepted the account.

In response, Varadkar said that after Donohoe takes questions this afternoon, it will be up to the general public to make up their minds on the matter.

“I heard his explanations over the weekend, spoke to him about it and I believe him.

I fought four general elections and I know what can happen in a campaign, particularly in a chaotic campaign.

“You might have 1,000 posters, somebody can offer to put 100 or 150 for you. They may offer to drop a few thousand leaflets for you and you do so on the assumption that they’re going to do it on a voluntary basis.

“It is possible that they may pay a third party or a fourth party to do that for them and not inform you.”

Sipo complaint

Further revelations from Stone come over a week after it was disclosed that Sipo had received a complaint over Donohoe’s failure to declare a donation of services during the 2016 General Election campaign.

Donohoe addressed the media on the matter and apologised for failing to declare the donation, with €1,057 being left unaccounted for. This was the value of six workers and a company van provided by Stone.

Following that, he made a statement to the Dáil and acknowledged that he had sold Stone tickets to the Fine Gael superdraw.

Speaking in the Dáil last Wednesday, Donohoe said that Stone “is a man of the very highest standards”.

He said that Stone had “made a donation to Fine Gael by the purchase of superdraw tickets which was sold by me”.

These superdraw tickets are essentially raffle tickets, with cash prizes available within constituencies.

Questions had been raised by opposition TDs following Donohoe’s Dáil statement, with some questioning whether or not he had received help from Stone during the 2020 campaign.

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