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Ethics watchdog 'very concerned' at failure of Renua to account for public funding spent in 2019

The party received €258,596 in public funding last year.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

RENUA HAS BEEN found to be in breach of its statutory obligations by failing to inform the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) how it spent public funding last year.

The commission said it was “very concerned” that the party has failed to account for money that had been provided to it under the Electoral Act.

The party received €258,596 in public funding last year, having also brought forward €114,147 in funding from the previous year.

Renua currently has no TDs or other elected officials, but qualified for State funding until 2019 because it secured more than 2% of the national vote in the 2016 general election.

However, it no longer qualifies for this funding as it did not meet the 2% threshold in this year’s general election.

Political parties who receive public funding are required to disclose to SIPO how it was spent under the Electoral Act.

Renua was one of eight parties in receipt of public funding until last year, but was the only one which did not inform the commission about how this was spent. 

The finding was contained in a report published by SIPO yesterday outlining how each of the eight parties spent the public funding they received last year.

The ethics watchdog noted that the party failed to submit its statement of expenditure and statutory auditors’ report for 2019 by the deadline of 30 April, and that both remain outstanding as of this month.

“The Commission is very concerned that Renua has failed to meet its statutory obligations to account for public monies that had been provided to it as a qualified party,” the report reads.

However, SIPO explained that no action could be taken against the party for failing to comply with its obligations, as it is no longer eligible for funding under the Electoral Act.

A spokesperson for Renua has been contacted for comment.

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Last week, the commission also expressed concerns that Renua was one of two parties which failed to meet its statutory obligations to provide a statement of accounts for 2019. 

Meanwhile, the SIPO report showed that Fine Gael spent the highest amount of public money last year, with an expenditure of €2,078,260.

The party spent over €1 million co-ordinating the activities of constituency branches and members, €861,060 on general administration, and €84,159 on participation by women in politics.

Fianna Fáil spent €1,779,957 in public funding last year, including €985,428 on general administration, €255,872 on research and education and €41,261 on participation by women in politics.

Sinn Féin spent €624,831, Labour spent €573,164, Solidarity-People Before Profit spent €391,178, the Green Party spent €338,368 and the Social Democrats spent €315,742.

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