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Political parties received €5.9m in State funding last year

Eight political parties qualified for Exchequer funding in 2018.

National Economic Dialogue Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

EIGHT POLITICAL PARTIES qualified for Exchequer funding totalling €5.9 million in 2018.

Reports published by the Standards in Public Office (Sipo) Commission today document the State funding received by political parties and independent TDs and Senators last year.

Eight political parties qualified for Exchequer funding in 2018: Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Green Party, the Labour Party, Renua, Sinn Féin, Social Democrats, and Solidarity-People Before Profit.

sipo parties Source: Sipo

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, the two biggest parties, received €1,663,000 and €1,593,000 respectively.

sipo parties 2 Source: Sipo

Renua received the smallest amount: €259,000. Councillor John Leahy stepped down as the party’s leader in June, leaving it without any elected officials following the local elections the previous month.

sipo renua Funding received by Renua in 2018 Source: Sipo

In order to qualify for funding under the Electoral Act 1997, a political party must be included in the Register of Political Parties and must have obtained at least 2% of the first preference votes at the last Dáil general election (in this case, 2016). 

Each qualified political party is paid annually:

  • a flat rate amount of €126,974
  • a share of an annual sum which was set in 2001 at €3,809,214 and which increased in line with general pay increases in the civil service

The funding may not be used for electoral or referendum purposes.

The 2018 fund, including the flat rate amount, was €5,963,992. The share of the fund payable to a qualified political party is determined by expressing the first preference votes of the party as a percentage of the total first preference votes received by all qualified political parties.

Total expenditure by political parties reported for the year was €5.978 million.

Party leaders

Party leaders and independent members of the Oireachtas may receive funding under the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) (Amendment) Act 2014, informally known as the ‘parliamentary activities allowance’.

A political party can qualify for payment under this legislation if they have registered in the Register of Political Parties and have had at least one member elected to Dáil Éireann or elected or nominated to Seanad Éireann at the last general election. Independent members of the Oireachtas are also eligible.

sipo parliamentary Source: Sipo

In 2018, eight parties qualified for the allowance: Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Green Party, Independents4Change, the Labour Party, Sinn Féin, Social Democrats, and Solidarity-People Before Profit.

The total funding payable in 2018 to the parliamentary party leaders of these parties amounted to €7.587 million.

fg exp Part of Fine Gael's expenditure in 2018 Source: Sipo

ff exp Part of Fianna Fáil's expenditure in 2018 Source: Sipo

The funding payable to non-party members of the Dáil during 2018 amounted to €703,704. The funding payable to non-party members of the Seanad during 2018 amounted to €309,121.

Total reported spending during the year, by both parties and independent members who submitted returns, amounted to €9.053 million.

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Órla Ryan

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