Ethics watchdog 'very concerned' at Áontu and Renua's non-compliance

Áontu and Renua among five political parties not to furnish a statement of their accounts to Sipo
Ethics watchdog 'very concerned' at Áontu and Renua's non-compliance

Peadar Tobin, leader of Áontu. The State's ethics watchdog has said it is "very concerned"  Áontu and Renua have failed to meet their statutory obligations to furnish a statement of their accounts. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The State's ethics watchdog has said it is "very concerned" that Áontu and Renua have failed to meet their statutory obligations to furnish a statement of their accounts.

The Standards in Public Office Commission's annual report on parties' accounts found that five — Aontú, Identity Ireland, the National Party, Renua Ireland and the Workers’ Party - had not filed statements.

The Commission said that it was particularly concerned about the non-compliance of Áontu and Renua.

"The Commission is very concerned that Renua, as a party that was in receipt of public monies under the Act, and Aontú, as a party represented in the Oireachtas, have failed to meet their statutory obligations to provide a statement of accounts to the Commission.  

"The Electoral Act provides that, where a registered political party fails to provide a statement of Accounts accompanied by a Statutory Auditors' Report, no further payment of Exchequer funding will be made to that party until it complies with its obligations in this regard."

However, the report goes on to say that no action can be taken against either party as they did not receive 2% of the first preference vote in this year's general election, which makes them ineligible for public funding in this Dáil.

A further eight parties were non-compliant for a variety of reasons.

Direct Democracy Ireland's accounts were not in the format required, the Communist Party the Irish Freedom Party, Workers & Unemployed Action Group and Human Dignity Alliance's were not audited and United People submitted financial statements year-ended in August 2020.

Fís Nua told Sipo that it had no income and expenditure in 2019. It also stated that it does not charge membership fees and does not take political donations. The Irish Democratic Party said that the amount held in its account (€22) is unchanged for the last few years.

The report says that the Commission is of the view that the process is excessive.

"The Commission is of the view that the requirement on all registered political parties to furnish statements of accounts and to have them audited by a statutory auditor, regardless of the size of the party or the extent of its income and expenditure, is excessive. Therefore, the Commission again recommends that the legislation be reviewed with a view to exempting smaller parties from the requirement to furnish audited statements of accounts to the Commission."

Nine political parties - Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Green Party; the Labour Party, Sinn Féin, the Kerry Independent Alliance, Solidarity-People Before Profit, Independents 4 Change and the Social Democrats -  were all found to be fully compliant.

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