Sinn Féin’s elected representatives have only been making a fraction of the donations to the party expected by its executive, despite leader Mary Lou McDonald insisting that each elected member donates €2,500 to the party from their salary each year
In fact, nine of the party’s TDs in the period from 2016 to 2018 made no donation whatsoever.
In that time, a maximum of €235,000 could have been received by the party should each of its 32 representatives (reduced to 30 following the resignations of Peadar Tóibín and Carol Nolan) have made their full contribution. However, just €125,860 was received in that time, 53.6% of the total figure.
The nine TDs — in question - John Brady, Pat Buckley, Sean Crowe, David Cullinane, Kathleen Funchion, Martin Kenny, Jonathan O’Brien, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, and Eoin Ó Broin — show no record of having donated to Sinn Féin in any of the years 2016 through 2018, according to records obtained via the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo).
No figures for 2019 are available yet — they are to be submitted to Sipo on or before March 31 of this year.
Under statutory obligations, Sipo receives and publishes statements of donations of more than €1,500, on aggregate, made to their party by all elected representatives each year.
The party had not replied to a request for comment on the matter at the time of publication.
For the three years, period, in question, only Mary Lou McDonald and Dublin senator Fintan Warfield donated the full made the full donation of €7,500.
Former president Gerry Adams made donations of €6,563 in that period.
Ms McDonald last week clarified that while TDs are no longer required to take only the average industrial wage as a salary, they are expected to make the maximum legally allowable donation to their own party of €2,500 per year, with the remainder used to fund constituency services.
The former requirement that TDs take only the average industrial wage now stands as a voluntary measure, and was abandoned as a mandatory expectation from April 2016.
It has emerged in recent years that a number of exceptions had been allowed as regards the industrial wage policy, with veteran TD Dessie Ellis one of the most noteworthy examples.
Mr Ó Broin, the party’s housing spokesman, last Friday told RTÉ Radio that “it has been very clear for quite some time that Sinn Féin TDs… make a voluntary contribution to the party of €2,500, which is the maximum you can make under Sipo rules”.
“In my own case, for example, I take a net pay of about €550 and the remainder of my salary I invest in local community projects and activities in my constituency, and that’s broadly what our TDs do,” he said.
Sipo has no record that Mr Ó Broin has made any voluntary contribution to his party over the past three years.
After Ms Mary Lou McDonald and Mr Senator Fintan Warfield, former MEPs Matt Carthy (€7,492) and Liadh Ní Riada (€7,492), and finance spokesman Pearse Doherty (€7,283) made the next largest contributions over the three-year period. No other representative broke the €7,000 mark.
Mr Ellis made one a sole contribution of €2,750 in 2018 — €250 of which was returned to him, having breached the maximum allowable donation.