Sinn Féin’s mismanagement of their party finances spreads over every major election for the last decade and an explanation is well overdue, Fine Gael Minister Neale Richmond has said.
It emerged today in the Irish Independent that Sinn Féin expects the public to believe it spent a total of €4,775 on 230 candidates in the 2019 local elections – or €21 on every candidate.
“This is beyond farcical. And Sinn Féin’s explanations are completely contradictory,” Minister Richmond said.
“Today, the party said: ‘Local areas pay for their own local election campaigns.’
“Yet, two weeks ago, Sinn Féin told the Irish Times the figure used in its spending declaration (provided to the Standards in Public Offices Commission) for the European elections also includes spending by the party’s candidates in the 2019 local election.
“They have completely disregarded that and say it is local areas’ responsibility. That’s the sound of a bus reversing over every Sinn Féin branch in the country.
“Local elections returns fall under the Local Government Act, so they are required to be submitted to Dublin City Council, not SIPO.
“We know Sinn Féin have a problem with not paying bills to local businesses but even that doesn’t explain these nonsense spending returns.
“The richest party in the country expect the public to believe they spent €21 on each 2019 local election candidate.
“This is make up Sinn Féin economics and they are taking everyone for a fool for the last two months,” Minister Richmond said.
SIPO is investigating Sinn Féin for several spending irregularities and no explanation for these errors has been provided.
“Sinn Féin cannot continue their usual strategy of going to ground when controversy arises; it is simply not acceptable for the party who claim to want to run the country.
“Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald and party treasurer, Pearse Doherty, must come before the Dáil to explain these errors.
“Sinn Féin are quick to summon Ministers and Government TDs before the Dáil at any turn – why should they not be accountable to the Dáil as well?
“There are anomalies relating to hundreds of thousands of euros in Sinn Féin’s accounts, we are not talking about petty cash here,” Minister Richmond said.
Other errors to date include:
- Businesses and venues left burnt for thousands of euros for services provided to Sinn Féin in the 2014 local elections and 2016 General Election.
- Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) not provided with the correct spending returns for the 2016 and 2020 General Elections.
- Failed to report the total expenditure made on behalf of two candidates in the 2019 European Elections.
- Statutory returns for the 2020 General Election underdeclared when sterling amounts were filed instead of euro.
- Several errors in the latest published Sinn Féin annual returns (2021), including an incorrect auditor’s report, an incorrect cash flow statement and a failure to include a staff pension scheme.
- SIPO had to repeatedly ask for amended declarations to be corrected which have not yet been filed.
“In their 2016 returns, Sinn Féin declared General Election spending of €313,000, but their SIPO declaration shows just €76,000 of spending. Where did the remaining €237,000 come from and what was it spent on?
“Added to this, their party in the North is surviving on top-ups from their counterparts in the Republic and mysterious multi-million sterling donations from a deceased man.
“Sinn Féin have gone to great pains to emphasise that they are fully SIPO compliant – this is clearly false. Sinn Féin must explain these errors in front of the Dáil.
“What else do they have to hide? Why are they refusing to answer questions on this? What else will emerge?” Minister Richmond concluded