Probe into TD’s donations to party close to completion

A Dáil ethics watchdog probe into a Sinn Féin TD’s practice of donating much of her salary to party activities will be concluded next month.

Cork East TD Sandra McLellan and her party have been asked to supply answers to the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) about how most of her salary is donated back into Sinn Féin’s coffers.

The Irish Examiner understands that Sipo’s inquiry is close to completion. The outcome will help decide if some Oireachtas members can continue to put salaries back into party activities.

It is understood that Sipo requested details of Ms McLellan’s bank accounts.

Sinn Féin TDs claim they live on the average industrial wage of €34,000 after handing the rest of their €92,000 salary back to the party.

Members of the Socialist Party say they do the same.

The investigation was prompted by a newspaper interview Ms McLellan gave two months ago where she said she was finding it “tough” living on the reduced salary.

Sipo requires more information as officials match her actions against Dáil rules on donation limits for parties.

The inquiry comes after two complainants, including one member of Leinster House, raised concerns the practice may breach the Electoral Acts.

Under the rules, every donation in excess of €5,079 has to be declared. The maximum value which a party can accept from the same person in the same year is €6,349.

A Sipo spokesperson said: “We’re making inquiries into the matters raised. It’s expected that the commission will come to a decision at its next meeting in September.”

Ms McLellan could not be contacted yesterday but Sinn Féin confirmed the party TD had met with Sipo officials on the issue.

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