Wednesday, January 18, 2017

THE six candidates who contested the February 2016 general election declared that they spent just over €60,000 between them in their combined campaigns.

According to the Standards in Public Office (SIPO) Commission, the highest-spending candidate and now foreign affairs minister was Charlie Flanagan with €17,976.69. Then came deputies Seán Fleming (€17,331.88) and Brian Stanley (€9.684.76). Former senator John Whelan spent €13,937.34 on his election bid, while Sinead Moore paid out €1,081 in her attempt to take a seat for the Green Party in the constituency.

The remaining candidate, Fine Gael’s Thomasina Connell said in her declaration to SIPO that she incurred no expenditure on her campaign.

There are statutory guidelines in place that put a cap on the amount each candidate can spend during an election campaign. The cap in the three-seater Laois constituency was €30,150. None of the six candidates reached that limit.

Candidates have the choice of spending all of their funding on their own campaign or they can assign some or all of their limit to the party at headquarters, which can spend it on their behalf.

From the total spend (€180,900) allowed for the six candidates, €61,268 was assigned to the various party headquarters to assist them in their election campaigns.

Minister Flanagan assigned €8,998, deputy Fleming (€12,060), deputy Stanley (€3,000), and Mr Whelan (€12,060), while Ms Moore assigned nothing.

While declaring that she spent €1,081.77, Ms Moore’s statement of returns was referred to the gardaí because SIPO deemed that her documentation was incomplete within the time period allowed.

When contacted yesterday morning by the Laois Nationalist, Ms Moore said: “I made a mistake. I didn’t fill in a form that I was supposed to. I contacted SIPO and it’s all sorted out now.”

Ms Connell assigned €25,150 of her funds to the national office of Fine Gael which, on her behalf, spent €14,915 on her campaign. While no figures were included in her personal returns to SIPO, the amount she assigned to her party was declared by Fine Gael to SIPO and included payments for advertisements, photography, leaflet drops, high-viz bibs, petrol, diesel, a roadside add, signs, a video, election posters and social media advertising.

In is declaration, minister Flanagan listed that the following people were assigned to incur election expenses on his behalf: Mary Flanagan, Dymphna Kennedy, John Finlay, Helen Delaney, Conor Bergin and Tom Curran. He spent a total of €4,332.07 on election posters. From this amount he spent €525.21 on cable ties and €450.55 on wooden stakes. On election material he said that he spent a total of €4,131.78, which included leaflet drops, graphic design on a car, ‘sorry I missed you’ cards and lapel stickers. He also spent €585.16 on van rental, €300 on a bus and €400 on petrol and diesel.

Seán Fleming authorised John Moloney, Seosamh Murphy and Paschal McEvoy to incur expenses on his behalf during the campaign.

He spent a total of €3,976.39 advertising in local newspapers and €500 advertising on Facebook. He spent €12,154.74 on election posters and €1,409.70 on canvass cards. He declared to SIPO that he used Oireachtas services and facilities amounting to €313.55 but returned that money following his success in the general election

Green Party candidate Ms Moore said that she spent €300 launching her campaign, €746.50 on leaflets and €1,081.77 on posters.

Brian Stanley spent €1,851 on newspaper advertising, €3,944.45 on election posters, wooden post and nails, €13.50 on pens and €370 on room hire. A total of €3,315.55 was spent on ‘other election material’ and €191.86 on transport and travel.

In his statement of expenditure to SIPO, John Whelan said that 40% of his election funding was assigned to the Labour Party. He spent a total of €2,423.86 on newspaper advertisement. He also declared that he provided Mountmellick Soccer Club (€100), Nurney GAA (€100) and Kildangan GAA (€100) with sponsorship. And he declared that he spent €5,286 on election posters and €465.28 on election leaflets as well as €450 for car insurance.

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By Joe Barrett
Contact Newsdesk: +353 57 86 70216

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