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Sipo says there were 22 political parties registered last year. PA Images
Watchdog

Fine Gael on top as Sipo reveals political donations list for 2019

Donations disclosed by Irish political parties last year totalled €175,576.

FINE GAEL RECEIVED the largest share of disclosed political donations last year, according to the 2019 report of the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo). 

Each year, parties must disclose to Sipo any donations that exceeded €1,500 or aggregated donations from the same donor that exceeded that same value. 

The maximum amount that may be accepted from the same donor in the same year is €2,500.

The report by the state’s ethics watchdog for last year shows that donations disclosed by Irish political parties last year totalled €175,576.

Of that figure, Fine Gael disclosed the largest amount at €79,456, followed by Sinn Féin at €45,620 and the Labour Party at €21,800. 

Fianna Fáil’s declared donations totalled just €2,500, despite the party winning the largest number of seats in last year’s local council elections.

Donation statements submitted to Sipo by the parties show that elected TDs from most parties disclosed donations, but the single declared donation to Fianna Fail is from the estate of Michael Fahy. 

According to Sipo, there were a total of 22 parties registered to contest elections in 2019.

PastedImage-51700 Disclosed donations by party, 2019. sipo.ie sipo.ie

The Sipo report also contains details of ‘accounting units’ within parties, which are subsidiaries that receive donations above €100. Within those units, Sipo states that the balance held by them collectively is €950,112. 

The report states that Fine Gael has the largest number of such units at 39 while Sinn Féin have just eight. 

PastedImage-44753 Accounting units by political party Sipo Sipo

In its report, Sipo reaffirms that parties are precluded from accepting donations from people who reside outside of Ireland, other than from Irish citizens. 

Sinn Féin faced controversy last year when Englishman William Hampton left an estate worth millions of euro to the party when he died in Wales. 

His estate has been estimated at up to €4.6 million and Sinn Féin says the donation is in line with rules laid down by the Northern Ireland Electoral Commission. 

Other parties have said that Sinn Féin is exploiting a “loophole” and it should return the money above the €2,500 Sipo limit. 

Covid-19 deadline 

Deadlines for submitting donation returns fall in March and this year occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sipo says that this meant that some parties submitted returns after the legal deadline but that it remains satisfied that parties “made best efforts” to submit them in time.

As a result, Sipo says it will not recommendation any action against the parties for late submissions. 

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