James Reilly rectifies receipt row after referral

Fine Gael deputy leader James Reilly last night said he has provided fresh documentation on donations to his failed Dáil election campaign after being referred to gardaí by Ireland’s political finances watchdog.

James Reilly rectifies receipt row after referral

The senator and former health minister confirmed the situation after he and 65 other candidates in last year’s general election — including a ministerial adviser and a number of government TDs — were caught up in an embarrassing campaign funding rules controversy.

Details published in the Standards in Public Office (Sipo) Commission’s election report for 2016 show Dr Reilly failed to provide proof he returned an excess donation to an individual which breached strict financial transparency rules.

No single donor to a candidate’s campaign can provide more than €200 in cash donations, but an individual provided Dr Reilly €1,000. Despite insisting he has returned the excess €800, Sipo noted he has not lodged a receipt proving this, meaning it was obliged under the law to refer him to gardai.

Speaking on RTE Radio’s Today with Sean O Rourke programme yesterday, Dr Reilly said nothing untoward had been intended.

He said he has since repaid the money to the donor, but had failed to produce a receipt to Sipo — a situation the Irish Examiner understands he rectified last night.

“I put my hands up, I forgot to give a receipt. I declared the €1,000, realised the error when pointed out to me and handed €800 back. It’s my fault and nobody else’s.”

While relatively minor in nature, the situation is one of a number of embarrassing controversies to affect him since he entered national politics in 2007.

The most high-profile incident involved the 2012 revelation Dr Reilly owed €1.9m after he was named as a debt defaulter in Stubbs Gazette.

Dr Reilly was yesterday one of 66 candidates for TD and Seanad seats whose names were forwarded to gardaí over similar election finances concerns.

They include Transport Minister Shane Ross’s media advisrr Carol Hunt; Louis O Connell, the Fine Gael election agent for Brendan Griffin and Jimmy Deenihan; former Social Democrats senator James Heffernan; and Aengus O Rourke, the son of former Fianna Fáil minister Mary O Rourke.

The vast majority of cases relate to failure to file incorrect documentation proving they had not broken strict financial transparency rules.

Meanwhile, Sipo has also confirmed the Pro-Life Campaign spent €40,000 on last year’s election, including €6,274 on Facebook adverts. No figures were available for pro-choice groups.

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