Paschal Donohoe’s election expenses explanation 'lies in tatters', according to Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty.
Minster Donohoe has been facing calls to answer questions about his 2016 election expenses ever since it was revealed he may have failed to declare services worth more than €1,100 provided to him during the 2016 General Election.
After delivering a press conference on the matter last weekend and a statement to the Dáil on Wednesday, the minister has now said he wants to make a further statement to the Dáil next week.
Minister Donohoe said he will use the statement to ensure the information he is sharing is “as accurate as possible” and agreed to take questions from opposition parties.
On Newstalk Breakfast however, Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said the reason he is coming back before the Dáil is because, “his story lies in tatters”.
“I think it is quite telling that the minister hasn’t answered very basic questions,” he said.
“So like, the very simple question I have asked him now seven times, is did Michael Stone not only pay for the election posters to be erected in 2016 but did he pay for his election posters to be erected in 2020.
“Why is the minister refusing to answer that?”
“Why are all Fine Gael spokespersons that have been on your radio shows, in RTÉ and other local radios not able to say that didn’t happen?
“That is a serious issue.”
He said the minister also needs to explain “how under God” he can say the donation was to his party rather than himself.
“There is significance to this because, remember, the charge being laid before him in the Dáil is that he received a personal donation from a business person which was above the legal limit,” he said.
“That is the point.”
Under Standards in Public Office (SIPO) rules, all election candidates must declare donations made to their campaigns no later than 56 days after the vote.
Minister Donohoe has admitted that he should have declared work carried out on his behalf by six people who put up his election posters during the campaign.
He should also have declared the use of a commercial van to transport the workers and the posters around his constituency.
The Minister has said he was under the impression the work was done on a voluntary basis; however, he has since learned they six workers were paid a total of €917 for their three nights erecting posters.
He has estimated the cost of using the company van at around €140 – however, he also admitted that he became aware of this oversight in 2017 and failed to correct the record.
He made an updated declaration to SIPO on Sunday updating his election donations to the tune of €1,057.
In the Dáil on Wednesday he acknowledged that he had made a "clear mistake" in not including the cost in his election expenses, something for which he apologised.
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