Election candidate who failed to file donations jailed

An unsuccessful general election candidate was jailed for five days yesterday for refusing to pay a €300 fine arising out of his conviction for failing to file a list of donations with the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo).

Election candidate who failed to file donations jailed

People’s Convention activist, Diarmaid Ó Cadhla, was arrested by appointment at his home in Blackrock, on the southside of Cork City, around 11am by gardaí who executed a warrant for his arrest.

He was transferred to Cork Prison where he insisted the admissions process be conducted in Irish, and using Irish-language forms.

His arrest arises out of his conviction for failing to complete Sipo forms after his unsuccessful candidacy in the 2011 general election, when he polled 508 votes in Cork South Central.

In accordance with the Electoral Act 1997, all candidates must declare donations in excess of €634.87 received for election purposes.

The legislation also requires all candidates to declare all election expenditure within 56 days of polling day and file a return for that expenditure to the commission.

Mr Ó Cadhla failed to file his returns within the required period.

The commission said it is its practice not to refer files to the DPP unless, after a significant period of time, and having issued a number of reminders, the documentation remains outstanding.

Sipo said, having issued several reminders, Mr Ó Cadhla’s case was one of 23 it referred to gardaí.

His case was referred to the DPP on September 2, 2011, and gardaí served electoral documents to him on October 6, 2011. He requested the documents be served in Irish, which was done on October 23, but he refused to return them on constitutional grounds.

He was then convicted and fined in Cork District Court in December 2014 for failing to make the prescribed electoral returns to Sipo. He had argued that the legislation is flawed, that the Sipo process discriminates against non-party candidates in favour of political parties which he described as “private clubs”, that his constitutional rights were being denied, and that he was being discriminated against.

He appealed the conviction to Cork Circuit Court and lost last July, when Judge Donagh McDonagh confirmed the original penalty of a €300 fine or five days in prison in default of payment. The warrant for his arrest for non-payment of the fine was executed yesterday.

Mr Ó Cadhla also unsuccessfully contested this year’s general election.

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