Dáil debates

Thursday, 19 January 2023

Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions

 

12:00 pm

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)

That has been my experience in my engagement with him. He has the country’s interests at heart in the discharge of his duties as a Minister.

Second, I offer the viewpoint that in a legitimate controversy and issue of this kind we need balance and perspective in how we approach these issues. I make that point in terms of the issue at stake here. It is essential that Members across the House adhere to the regulations and rules governing political donations, electoral spending and the various rules the House has created through legislation to ensure the proper conduct of elections and political affairs in this country. That is important but in the consideration of that we need to have balance and perspective with regard to the issues at hand.

Third, the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, has come before the House in relation to this issue and it is my understanding that he will do so again at the earliest opportunity. We in this House took the decision to establish a body via legislation, the Standards in Public Office Commission, or SIPO, to investigate complaints that are lodged with SIPO in respect of any individual or Member of the House where the complaint alleges there has been a breach of the rules or guidelines. The Minister has come before the House. A legitimate question that we all must ask ourselves in respect of electoral laws and the political donation regulations is whether it is the view that we should have a process for detailed investigations that operates parallel with SIPO. There is a genuine issue there.

To be fair, Deputy Doherty’s party acknowledged that it did not fully include all expenditure in a recent election in its statement. I think some €7,000 paid to a political polling company was not included. If I am correct, and Deputy Doherty may correct me, his party received a major donation from, I think, William Hampton of €4 million or €5 million. Sinn Féin has always said it is a 32-county party but in respect of any complaints or accountability to SIPO in regard to that legacy of €4 million to €5 million, which was extraordinary in itself, Sinn Féin opted to say that there is a six-county Sinn Féin party to which that money has gone and it has not gone to the party in the Republic. Some would say that is a circumvention of the SIPO rules and regulations, although Deputy Doherty may disagree with that.

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