LABOUR leader Eamon Gilmore has been caught in an embarrassing ethics row after one of the party’s councillors used his free Dáil postage facility to send out local election literature.
Earlier this month, the State’s ethics watchdog warned that TDs and Senators should not provide pre-paid Oireachtas envelopes to candidates in the forthcoming local and European elections.
The Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) said the free postage facility was provided at public expense to assist TDs and senators in the performance of their duties as public representatives, and it was “entirely inappropriate” for any of them to pass the envelopes onto election candidates for personal gain.
But Labour’s Dublin city councillor Eric Byrne used the Dáil envelopes to send invitations to the launch of his re-election campaign.
Stamped on the envelope was: “If undelivered return to: Eamon Gilmore TD, Leader, Labour Party, Ely Place, Dublin 2.”
The envelopes had not been provided to Mr Byrne from Mr Gilmore’s office in the Dáil, the spokesman stressed. However, a portion of Mr Gilmore’s pre-paid envelopes were left in party headquarters in Ely Place for “legitimate purposes”, such as staff posting material on Mr Gilmore’s behalf.
The Labour statement said: “On April 2, the party leader wrote to all [Labour] members of the Oireachtas, enclosing a copy of the statement issued by the SIPO on the same day regarding the use of Oireachtas envelopes.
“In his letter he asked all TDs and senators ‘to ensure that the terms of the SIPO statement are complied with’. The use by Cllr Eric Byrne of Oireachtas envelopes was not appropriate and all Labour Party councillors and candidates will now be written to enclosing a copy of the SIPO statement and requesting to comply with the terms of it.”
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