Renua will continue to collect €250k despite having no elected representatives

John Leahy, who will run as an independent at next general election

Renua will continue to be able to claim more than €250,000 a year in taxpayers’ funding - despite not having any elected representatives.

The confirmation that the party will continue to be eligible for State funding came after Renua’s party leader and only elected representative announced he is leaving the party.

John Leahy, who was last month elected to Offaly County Council as a Renua candidate, says he will run as an independent candidate in the Laois/Offaly constituency in the next general election. He was the only Renua candidate to be successfully elected last month, with 26 party candidates across the country failing to win a seat at the local elections.

Mr Leahy’s resignation from the party means Renua now has no elected representative in the Dáil, Seanad, or on any local authorities across the country.

Renua received €258,595.96 in State funding under the Electoral Act last year, and Standards in Public Office (SIPO) has confirmed the party will continue to be eligible for quarterly payments in arrears despite now not having any elected representatives.

Section 16 of the Electoral Act 1997 Act sets out the criteria under which a political party is eligible for funding.

To qualify, a party must be registered in the Register of Political Parties and its candidates must attract no less than 2% of the total first preference votes obtained by all candidates at the most recent Dáil general election.

“In the case of Renua, they meet the criteria to qualify for payment of Exchequer Funding based on election results at the 2016 general election, regardless of the resulting or subsequent number of representatives in the Oireachtas,” a SIPO spokesperson said.

Speaking to local radio station Midlands 103, Mr Leahy said he had a salary of €65,000 from the funding the party received, but that €250,000 “doesn’t come close to what is needed to run a political party".

While SIPO receives statements of expenditure of exchequer funding for verification, the funds are allocated by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

It pays a fixed sum of €126,973.80 a year to each qualifying party, who then share an annual €4,948,201.68 per annum, which is divided out depending on each party’s share of the vote.

Last year eight parties shared funding of €5,963,992.08; Fine Gael (€1,663,390.42), Fianna Fáíl (€1,593,125.96), Sinn Féín (€960,745.78), Labour (€524,809.22), Solidarity-PBP (€364,487.48), Social Democrats (€308,077.98) Green Party €290,759.28, and Renua (€258,595.96).

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