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Standards Commission finds Fianna Fáil councillor wrongly claimed expenses

Brian Ó Domhnaill denied any wrongdoing and told the hearing he filled out his expense claims “as honestly as he could”.

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THE STANDARDS COMMISSION has found that Fianna Fáil Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill breached ethics laws by knowingly claiming travel expenses from two different bodies for meetings taking place in different locations on the same dates.

The disputed expense claims date back to 2006 and 2007, when Brian Ó Domhnaill was a member of Donegal County Council.

The Senator claimed travel and subsistence expenses from DCC for three meetings he attended in March, April and May 2006. He then also claimed travel and subsistence expenses from Údarás na Gaeltachta (Ú na G) for meetings taking place in other locations on the same dates.

The investigation report published today states:

The Standards Commission has found that Senator Ó Domhnaill contravened ethics legislation when, as a councillor, he submitted claims for travelling and subsistence expenses from two separate bodies for the same dates.

“The investigation concerned nine alleged contraventions of ethics legislation, which arise from three sets of circumstances. The Standards Commission found against Senator Ó Domhnaill in regard to each of the alleged contraventions.”

The Standards Commission found that Senator Ó Domhnaill acted in disregard of provisions of the Code of Conduct for Councillors and did a ‘specified act’ within the meaning of the Standards in Public Office Act 2001 in regard to each set of circumstances.

During an investigation hearing held on 9 May 2016, Ó Domhnaill denied any wrongdoing and told the hearing he filled out his expense claims “as honestly as he could”.

However, the Standards Commission found that each contravention was committed intentionally and was, in all the circumstances, a serious matter. The Commission also decided that it is not in a position to find that Senator Ó Domhnaill acted in good faith in relation to the contraventions.

Earlier this year, TheJournal.ie revealed that the Standards in Public Office (Sipo) Commission has spent almost €350,000 in its investigation into the duplication of expenses by Ó Domhnaill.

Read: It has cost €350,000 to investigate this senator’s €2,000 expense claims>

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