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SIPO renews call for rethink on political party funding rules

The Standards in Public Office Commission is tasked with ensuring all parties are in compliance with funding rules.

Political parties are required by law to file their audited accounts with the Standards in Public Office Commission.
Political parties are required by law to file their audited accounts with the Standards in Public Office Commission.
Image: Laura Hutton

THE STANDARDS IN Public office commission (SIPO) has named three parties as non-compliant in its 2017 report. 

The Communist Party, Direct Democracy Ireland and Workers and Unemployed Action Group gave SIPO statements which do not comply with the body’s guidelines. 

The commission is in charge of overseeing the disclosure of political parties’ financial accounts, in order to ensure all are run in accordance with the law. 

SIPO said the Communist Party and the Workers and Unemployed Action group  accounts had not been audited, while Direct Democracy Ireland claimed the party had only minimal financial transactions during 2017. 

However the commission has decided against auditing the three parties, due to their small size and lack of public funding: 

Given the fact that the unaudited accounts were from parties that do not received funding from the exchequer under the Electoral Act, and having regard to whether the public interest necessitated the investment of the necessary resources to undertake such an audit, the Commission decided not to have the relevant statements audited.

Separately five parties did not offer any statement of accounts to SIPO. They are: Fís Nua, Identity Ireland, United People Party, Irish Democratic Party and the Workers Party.

The Irish Democratic Party said due to the small amount of money in its accounts “it was not in a position to have the accounts professionally audited”.

The United People Party did disclose a statement, however it did not contain details of financial transactions and Fis Nua said it had not received any donations since 2015.

Commenting on the its report SIPO said the requirement for all parties to furnish audited accounts regardless of their size or income is excessive. The body renewed its calls for rules in the are to be reviewed: 

Therefore, the Commission again recommends that the legislation be reviewed with a view to exempting smaller parties from the requirement to furnish audited statements of accounts to the Commission.

The body has also called for all legislation relating to the accounts of political parties be reviewed so that rules can be reconciled across the board. 

SIPO is chaired by Justice Daniel O’Keeffe.

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