Politicians declare €163,394 in donations last year

TDS and senators declared a total of €163,394 in donations last year, new figures from the State’s ethics watchdog have revealed.

The €163,394 sum is unlikely to represent the true amount of money given to politicians in 2008, however, as only donations above €634.87 must be disclosed.

While there are 166 TDs and 60 senators, just 20 TDs and six senators received donations above €634.87, according to the figures.

None of the country’s 13 MEPs declared any donations above the threshold, furnishing the Standards in Public Office Commission with a “nil” donation statement.

Unsurprisingly, given the party’s size and its long spell in power, Fianna Fáil politicians received the highest amount of donations above the threshold, valued at €94,115.

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and his Dublin Central running mate Cyprian Brady were the Fianna Fáil politicians with the highest figures, each declaring they had benefited to the value of €19,000 from the use of the St Luke’s constituency office last year.

Politicians are obliged to declare the use of property or services as well as cash donations.

Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O’Brien declared €12,780 in donations from different companies and individuals.

Labour politicians declared a total of €40,130, placing the party ahead of Fine Gael. But the vast majority of that (€35,310) was received by a single politician, Senator Alan Kelly.

Among his donors was his brother, prominent Wall Street PR advisor Declan Kelly, who was eligible to make a donation even though he lives abroad on the basis of being an Irish citizen.

Members of Fine Gael disclosed €24,450, but again, a sizeable portion of that was accounted for by one TD, James Reilly, who declared €15,950 in donations.

One member of the Green Party — junior minister Trevor Sargent — declared €1,200 in donations, while non-party politicians declared a total of €3,499.

The 2008 total of €163,394 is well down on the previous year, when €855,995 in donations was disclosed.

But the Standards Commission said the vastly higher 2007 figure reflected the fact that it was an election year, when candidates would have been actively seeking donations.

As well as having to declare donations above €634.87, TDs, senators and MEPs are prohibited from accepting foreign donations or from accepting anonymous donations exceeding a value of €126.97.

They are also prohibited from accepting donations with a total value exceeding €2,539.48 from the same person in the same year.

An excess donation of €2,500 was returned to a donor and a donation of €2,500 returned to another individual by Mr Kelly.


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