Ex-FF TD used Oireachtas envelopes to send party notices

A former Fianna Fáil TD has denied any wrongdoing by using prepaid Oireachtas envelopes to send out notices of local party meetings.

Tom McEllistrim, 44, who was defeated in the last general election in the Kerry North/West Limerick constituency, said it was routine for the party to use the envelopes, normally reserved for sitting TDs and senators, in this manner.

The envelopes contained slips saying they were compliments of Cavan FF senator and party whip in the Seanad, Diarmuid Wilson.

However, Mr McEllistrim said he was perfectly entitled to use the envelopes as they were provided to him by a sitting senator. The envelopes were sent to cumann members in Asdee, Ballybunion and Listowel.

“It is allowable to use it [envelopes] for notifying people about a party meeting. You can’t use them for anything else, however,” he was quoted as saying in yesterday’s issue of The Kerryman newspaper.

“It was always done routinely. Secretaries of cumainn would send out letters with envelopes compliments of a TD, for example. We don’t have a [FF] TD now and we have to get it compliments of someone else, once it is for party purposes.”

Mr McEllistrim, from Ballymacelligott, Tralee, has started canvassing for the next general election in the new five-seat constituency embracing all of Co Kerry, though FF candidates have not yet been selected.

The Standards in Public Office Commission warned senators and TDs not to pass the pre-paid envelopes around to councillors and election candidates. It states Oireachtas envelopes cost taxpayers a total of €2.7m.

“TDs and senators should not provide prepaid Oireachtas envelopes (or other Oireachtas facilities) to candidates at the forthcoming local and European elections,” the commission advises on its website.

“It is entirely inappropriate for members to pass such facilities on to other persons, such as election candidates, for personal, electoral or party political gain.”

FF spokesman in Kerry John O’Donoghue said he had received no complaints, but said Oireachtas envelopes should only be used by an Oireachtas member.

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