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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C A Renua banner at a protest outside the Dáil in July 2020

Thirteen political parties in breach of legal requirements to submit accounts

A new report from Ireland’s ethics watchdog was published today.

THIRTEEN POLITICAL PARTIES have failed to meet their statutory obligations to provide the ethics watchdog with a statement of their accounts, according to a new report from Ireland’s ethics watchdog.

Ten parties, including all of Ireland’s main political groups, were found to be compliant.

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

Four registered parties did not provide accounts to SIPO: Identity Ireland, Renua Ireland, the National Party and the Workers’ Party.

Nine parties submitted accounts which were unaudited, including the Human Dignity Alliance and Right to Change.

The Human Dignity Alliance was founded by NUI Senator Rónán Mullen, but he is listed as an independent on the Oireachtas website.

Right to Change is represented in the Dáil by Joan Collins, but she is officially listed as part of the Independents 4 Change bloc.

None of the other parties have any representatives in the Dáil or Seanad.

The report said that Right to Change submitted “unsigned financial statements in the required format”, as well as bank statements. “They have not been audited and have not been reviewed in detail.”

Other parties that submitted unaudited accounts were the Irish Freedom Party, the Communist Party of Ireland and Direct Democracy Ireland.

The 10 parties which were found to meet their statutory obligations were:

  • Aontú
  • Fianna Fáil
  • Fine Gael
  • Green Party
  • Independents 4 Change
  • Kerry Independent Alliance
  • People Before Profit/Solidarity
  • Sinn Féin
  • Social Democrats
  • Labour

In its report SIPO called for a minimum income threshold below which parties do not have to submit audited financial statements. It has made this recommendation in previous reports, but this year noted that the Electoral Reform Act 2022 did not include such a change.

The Act only exempts parties below a certain income threshold from declaring their subsidiaries.

The report said: “The Commission considers that this approach is inconsistent with the new provisions relating to subsidiaries and recommends that a further amendment be considered to apply similar thresholds to accounts of party headquarters.”

The commission also expressed concern that the 2022 Act does not address inconsistencies in what parties are required to declare under different pieces of legislation. “It remains of the view that it would be useful to consolidate or at least to reconcile the reporting requirements of all legislation that provide for state funding of political parties for administrative ease and legislative coherence.”

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