Four defeated Presidential election candidates nursing losses of between €150,000 and €253,000

Only President Higgins and runner-up Peter Casey had expenses reimbursed.

Four defeated Presidential election candidates nursing losses of between €150,000 and €253,000

Four of the defeated Presidential election candidates are nursing losses of between €150,000 and €253,000 which they will not be reimbursed for, it has been revealed.

Sinn Féin's Liadh Ní Riada, Senator Joan Freeman, former Dragon's Den stars Gavan Duffy and Sean Gallagher have all paid significantly for their ill-fated attempts to unseat President Michael D Higgins last year.

Of the six candidates who contested the election, only President Higgins and runner-up Peter Casey had expenses reimbursed - by being elected in the case of the President or by exceeding one-quarter of the quota. The two men received a total of €319,119 between them, the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) report reveals.

President Higgins spent €367,338 on his re-election campaign last October and will be reimbursed €200,000 of that from the taxpayer, newly released figures show.

President Higgins received more donations and spent more money on last year's campaign for Áras an Uachtaráin than any other candidate, according to the Sipo report on the presidential election.

President Higgins was reimbursed the maximum amount permitted while Mr Casey got back all of the €119,911 he spent on his campaign.

Michael D Higgins and Peter Casey
Michael D Higgins and Peter Casey

The Sipo report showed that donations to candidates disclosed amounted to €74,300. Of that, €41,300 went to President Higgins while €24,000 was given to Joan Freeman and €9,000 went to Sean Gallagher.

The total spent by all the candidates on the campaign was €1,360,417, significantly down on the €2.36 million spent during the 2011 campaign.

Of the €367,338 he spent in total, President Higgins spent €79,807 on election posters and €143,018 on other election material. He spent €49,869 on advertising, double the next nearest rival Mr Casey who spent €25,778.

His spend on publicity was the second-lowest of all candidates at €18,531.

President Higgins spent €36,518 on office and stationery costs, just €5,618 on transport and €38,438 on campaign workers.

Only two candidates spent money on posters, President Higgins and Sinn Féin candidate Liadh ni Riada who spent €79,807 on them.

Mr Casey and Joan Freeman were the only two candidates to spend money on market research but the total amount for both was small at just €5,116.

The total spend for all candidates was as follows:

  • President Michael D Higgins spent €367,338
  • Peter Casey spent €119,911
  • Sean Gallagher spent €246,820
  • Liadh ni Riada spent €209,715
  • Joan Freeman spent €253,194
  • Gavan Duffy spent €163,437

A six-figure loan given to Senator Freeman is not disclosed in the Sipo report. Ms Freeman courted some controversy during the campaign when she disclosed that she took a €120,000 loan from her boyfriend of 40 years ago, Des Walsh.

However, Mr Walsh, listed as living outside the State, also donated €1,000 to her campaign, the maximum amount under the rules.

Ms Freeman defended Walsh, a controversial US-based businessman who made his money with nutritional supplements company, Herbalife.

Senator Freeman said the loan was entirely legitimate and has been paid from Mr Walsh's personal finances.

"What you've also got to remember is that when I asked for this loan, I was asking on behalf of what I can do for my country,” she said.

More in this section