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SIPO 'very concerned' about failure of Aontú and Renua to submit statements of their annual accounts

Political parties registered in Ireland are required to disclose their annual accounts to SIPO.

Aontú launches its local election manifesto last year
Aontú launches its local election manifesto last year
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

THE STANDARDS IN Public Office Commission (SIPO) has expressed concerns about the failure of Aontú and Renua Ireland to meet their statutory obligations to provide the ethics watchdog with a statement of their accounts.

The two were among five registered political parties who failed to provide the commission with a statement of their accounts for 2019 this year.

Political parties registered in Ireland are required to disclose their annual accounts to SIPO by 30 June every year under the Electoral Act 1997.

However, five parties – Aontú, Identity Ireland, the National Party, Renua Ireland and the Workers’ Party – failed to provide the commission with a statement of their accounts.

In its annual report on parties’ accounts, SIPO singled out Aontú and Renua Ireland for not doing so.

“The Commission is very concerned that Renua, as a party that was in receipt of public monies under the Act, and Aontú, as a party represented in the Oireachtas, have failed to meet their statutory obligations to provide a statement of accounts to the Commission,” the report reads.

However, SIPO explained that no action could be taken against either party for failing to comply with its obligations, as neither was eligible for funding under the Electoral Act, as they did not obtain 2% of the first preference votes in February’s general election.

TheJournal.ie has contacted both Aontú and Renua Ireland for comment.

Meanwhile, the commission also found eight other parties to be non-compliant with their obligations to provide details about their accounts under the Electoral Act.

Fís Nua and the Irish Democratic Party failed to provide statements of their accounts, but SIPO noted that both had engaged in correspondence with the commission.

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Fís Nua told SIPO that it had no income and expenditure in 2019 and that it does not charge membership fees or take political donations.

The Irish Democratic Party told the commission that the amount held in its account, €22, had been unchanged for the last few years.

It was noted that the Communist Party of Ireland, Direct Democracy Ireland, the Human Dignity Alliance, the Irish Freedom Party, and the Workers & Unemployed Action Group provided SIPO with unaudited accounts.

And United People provided the commission with an unsigned set of financial statements dated year-end August 2020, comprising of a template supplied by the Commission with some unchanged text (“insert standard accounting note”) and no financial transactions. 

However, nine registered political parties – Fianna Fáil; Fine Gael; the Labour Party; the Green Party; Sinn Féin; the Kerry Independent Alliance; Solidarity-People Before Profit; Independents 4 Change and the Social Democrats – were found to be fully compliant.

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