Sinn Féin must pay all their unsettled General Election invoices and explain how they failed to record a series of high profile events in their SIPO returns, Fine Gael Senator Regina Doherty said.
Today, it emerges that not alone did Sinn Féin declare just €3,700 on publicity activity on their 2016 General Election returns despite a host of events, the party has failed to pay an unsettled invoice to the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) for hosting two events eight years ago.
“The fact that Sinn Féin has admitted this morning that they will now have to amend their 2016 returns just raises more and more questions.” Senator Doherty said.
“Sinn Féin had two events at the RIA in February 2016 as part of their General Election campaign. At their manifesto launch, Mary Lou McDonald, Pearse Doherty and Gerry Adams spoke about ‘detailed, fully costed and realistic proposals’ but they never even paid a €600 invoice for the room hire.
“This is farcical. And they want to manage the country’s finances,” Senator Doherty said.
“Party treasurer Pearse Doherty who attended the RIA event, must explain all this. And they must pay the RIA. It’s not as if they are short on money as they use the border to claim they are two different parties,” she added.
“According to their SIPO returns, in comparison to other parties, Sinn Féin never spent a single cent on event hire, despite a series of press conferences at several events including hotels or on professional photography or travel costs for their party political broadcast which is shot in locations nationwide.”
Senator Doherty said the party must explain the glaring underspend on their election publicity activity that was submitted in their 2016 returns to the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO).
This compares to substantial amounts declared by other parties contesting the election on expenses for venue hire, camera services, video production, candidate photography and staging.
Senator Doherty said: “Under SIPO guidelines, a party is required to report spending on party political broadcasts, the provision of any services or facilities in connection with press conferences or other dealings with the media, media advice and training and photography.
“If Sinn Féin’s 2016 returns are to be believed, the party had no outlay on venue hire for press conferences and other events associated with the election that year.
“Perhaps Sinn Féin were plucking notes from the magic money tree to fund their election expenses in the same manner they claim they can pay for every service provided by the State, while taxing ordinary workers and businesses to the hilt.
“The latest revelation comes just days after it emerged that SIPO had to request that Sinn Féin amend their election records for a third time. The party still has questions to answer over a £7,000 (sterling) invoice from a London based poll company, Survation, and their failure to disclose it until the omission was exposed by a journalist,” Senator Doherty concluded.