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Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin Sam Boal/

Ó Broin insists his party doesn't 'owe Donohoe apology' in wake of SF expenses revelations

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Ó Broin said there is a “world of a difference” between Sinn Féin’s situation and Donohoe’s.

SINN FÉIN’S HOUSING spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has said Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe is not owed an apology after it was reported in recent days that there were expenses undeclared by Sinn Féin. 

It was reported by the Irish Independent on Wednesday that Sinn Féin is to amend its 2016 election spending returns after an “oversight” led to the party failing to pay a €600 bill for a room at the Royal Irish Academy. 

The party says it has no record of receiving an invoice from the Dublin venue and it was not included in the party’s election returns to the Stanards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) seven years ago. 

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Ó Broin said there is a “world of a difference” between Sinn Féin’s situation and Donohoe’s failure to declare a donation of services to the ethics watchdog during the 2016 General Election campaign.

When asked if Sinn Féin owe Donohoe an apology, he said: “No, I don’t believe so, and the attempt by some politicians to draw an equivalance to what are effectively relatively minor administrative errors in our part, versus refusal and failure to declare very significant corporate donations in kind is a world of a difference.

“We have made a number of errors, and they have been brought to our attention in some instances by the media, and as soon as they have been brought to our attention we’ve rectified them immediately. That’s a world of a difference for Paschal.

“That’s a world of a difference from Paschal, who failed to declare significant donations, was notified in 2017, did nothing about it, was notified in 222, did nothing about it. Came before the Dáil once, didn’t declare his full donations, and still has very significant questions to answer.”

Donohoe apologised again in the Dáil on Tuesday for the “difficulties” and the “distraction” from the Government’s work that the controversy around his postering in two general elections in 2016 and 2020 has caused. He confirmed that there had been a breach of 2020 election rules. 

Ó Broin was speaking today after it was reported by RTÉ yesterday that Sinn Féin’s 2020 election expenses statement to SIPO will have to be corrected again after the party found further errors in its returns. 

Two invoices with sterling values of £4,800 and £800 were sent by the party to SIPO in 2020, but the euro value should have been returned, RTÉ reported. 

This means the party under declared its election expenses for 2020 by €945.

A party spokesperson told RTÉ: “This was an administrative error that should not have happened. It will be corrected and returned to SIPO.

“Both invoices were paid by the party in the south, at the following rates: Offline Central: €5601.25 and HotPress Sound: €943.96.”

The Irish Times then reported this morning that SIPO is investigating a complaint that Sinn Féin failed to account for spending on its Abú election data base election spending returns. 

The newspaper reported that the complaint was made by a Fine Gael activist 15 months ago when the existence of the database was first revealed

Ó Broin told Morning Ireland that the cost of hosting the website is €45 a month and that it is a recurring charge. 

“Our understanding is that because it’s a recurring charge that it would have to be paid whether it was an election or not. There is no requirement to record it as an election expense. But it is recorded and it is published in our annual accounts,” he said. 

“SIPO have written to us on foot of an complaint from a Fine Gael activist. We will absolutely respond to them,” Ó Broin said. 

“What I’m saying is there is a world of difference between administrative errors, no matter how sloppy they are, and the refusal and failure to answer questions about significant corporate donations. They aren’t the same thing.” 

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