Paschal Donohoe is ‘flagrantly’ in breach of election rules and it is “not credible” that he remains on as minister, according to People Before Profit.
It comes after the Public Expenditure Minister made a second statement to the Dáil about donations to his election campaign from businessman Michael Stone.
Mr Stone yesterday confirmed that he paid workers to erect election posters for Minister Donohoe during the 2020 election campaign as well as in 2016.
It also emerged that the use of company vans for the workers amounted to a donation valued at €434 – a breach of legislation that only permits unregistered corporate doners to donate up to €200 to a party.
Minister Donohoe yesterday insisted he assumed all the work was done on a voluntary basis and said Fine Gael Cllr Ray McAdam was responsible for overseeing his postering campaign.
The Standards In Public Office Commission (SIPO) is now investigating the donations.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy again said Minister Donohoe must step down if he is found to have breached election rules.
“This is not about a few hundred quid,” he said. “This is about the rules about ethics in politics and whether they apply to ministers or not.
“It is about, do these rules apply or are they just on paper and you get away with them if you don’t abide by them, election after election.”
He said it is not credible to say the lack of declarations were an ‘honest oversight’ – noting that Minister Donohoe became aware of the 2016 postering in 2017 and did not correct the record.
“He is flagrantly in breach as a minister,” he said. “Do the rules apply to him or not? I just don’t think it is credible for him to stay as a minister.”
“Let SIPO decide on the facts but surely, if SIPO decides the facts say that Paschal Donohoe was in breach of the rules repeatedly, then surely Simon Harris, surely Paschal Donohoe and surely the Government agrees that he can’t continue.”
Also on the show, the interim Justice Minister Simon Harris called for “perspective and proportionality” over the controversy.
He said it would be inappropriate for him, “particularly as justice minister” to comment on the outcome of the SIPO investigation while it is ongoing.
When it was put to him that Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has already said that Minister Donohoe should continue on regardless of the outcome, he said: “Well I clearly don’t believe that the minister should go anywhere.”
“Minister Donohoe is doing an incredible job here and abroad and that is absolutely my position,” he said.
“Perspective and proportionality”
He said Minister Donohoe was “extraordinarily clear” in his statement to the Dáil yesterday.
“There also needs to be a degree of perspective and proportionality here,” he said. “Paschal Donohoe is an honest person, a decent person and a person of integrity.
“One of our finest politicians, recognised here and abroad as such. There was an honest oversight made here and as soon as it was brought to Paschal’s attention, as most people can see, he has been working to rectify the mater, including amending his election returns.
“So this is an honest oversight, it needs to be seen as such and of course, SIPO will have an opportunity to consider the matter also.”