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Candidate failed to provide documentation

TWO people involved in last year’s general election in Clare were referred to gardaí, after a failure to furnish donation statements/statutory declarations.

The Standards in Public Office Commission sent 66 files to An Garda Síochána, including ones on Niamh O’Brien, Fís Nua’s candidate for Clare and her election agent, Greim na hEaladh.

Ms O’Brien said she actually believed she had returned the required documents and she expects the matter will be sorted out easily.

“I actually thought I had returned documents and they didn’t get them. Tony Mulqueen (Commissioner for Oaths) will tell you I was up with him signing them. I’m going to have to fill them out again. I’m not one bit worried about it or bothered about it; it’s not as if there are big, brown envelopes coming my way. I wouldn’t have received anything over €100 so it’s all very basic.”

Ms O’Brien said she has spoken to gardaí about the issue in recent days and does not expect there will be a problem.

Regarding why there may have been a misunderstanding, she added, “I had it filled out but I don’t know what happened. It could be the case that it actually got bundled up with another file and got put in the wrong envelope. I’d be fairly scatty at the best of times, so I’d be taking full responsibility if something like that happened and I’d say that’s exactly what did happen.”

Details of the spending by the various candidates has also been made available by the Standards in Public Office Commission.

Clare’s Independent TD Michael Harty had election expenses of just below €33,000, it shows. Dr Harty’s expenses came to €32,894.77, with election posters being the single biggest item of expenditure, with €11,703.32 going on them. Advertising saw spending of €7,411, while what is described as “other election material” saw spending of €6,163.15. The largest item included in this was a payment to Realprint of €4,495.20. A sum of €5,755.25 was spent on campaign workers.

Party candidates had the option of assigning a portion of their statutory spending limit back to their parties, if they did not use the whole limit they are entitled to on their own campaign.

According to the documentation, Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley assigned €15,060 of the statutory spending limit to his party. It records an overall expense total of €10,858.71, with spending of €6,478 on posters being the largest item. There was also a spend of €2,935.02 on advertising.

Re-elected Deputy Pat Breen assigned €22,885 of the statutory spending limit to Fine Gael. It also shows spending of €5,465.59 on election posters and €4,906 on advertising. The Ballynacally man had an overall expense total of €14,468.32.

His party colleague, Joe Carey, assigned €22,385 to Fine Gael. The summary of his expenses showed €4,468.27 went on advertising, while €7,757.49 was spent on election posters. There was an overall expense total of €15,224.56.

Michael McNamara lost his seat in the election and the Standards in Public Office figures show that he assigned €15,060 to the Labour Party. He had an overall expense total of €15,224.56, with €4468.27 spent on advertising and €7,547.49 on election posters.

Sinn Féin’s Noeleen Moran assigned €5,000 of the spending limit to her party. She clocked up an overall expense total of €8,280.79, with spending of €3,099.95 on election posters, €2,280.34 on other election materials and €2,738 on advertising.

By Owen Ryan

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