The Standards Commission issues press releases from time to time, which serve to notify members of the media and public of new publications, announcements, or statements made by the Commission.

Press releases

For immediate release

Press Release

26 November 2019: Update on Investigation Hearing in respect of Cllr Hugh McElvaney

An Investigation Hearing into alleged contraventions of the Local Government Act by Councillor Hugh McElvaney of Monaghan County Council will recommence at 9.00 am on Monday 2 December 2019.

As the Standards in Public Office Commission (the Commission) will be in the process of moving office at that time, the hearing will take place at the offices of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland at PSI House, Fenian Street, Dublin 2.

As a result of having to conduct the hearing off-site, there are a very limited number of spaces available for members of the public and the media to attend. Anyone wishing to attend the Investigation Hearing must communicate his or her attendance to this office by 4.00 pm on Thursday, 28 November 2019. Please be aware that the Commission may, where it considers it appropriate, direct that the whole or part of any hearing be held in private.

If you have any special requirements and wish to attend, please contact the Commission immediately on 01-6395783 and we will do our best to accommodate your needs.

Background

Established in 2001, the Commission is an independent, non-partisan body responsible for overseeing the Ethics in Public Office Acts, the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended), the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) (Amendment) Act 2014, and the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015.

Standards in Public Office Commission

18 Lower Leeson Street

Dublin 2

D02 HE97

Telephone: (01) 639 5666

E-mail: info@sipo.ie

Website: www.sipo.ie

Twitter: @SIPOCIreland

END

Press Release - Report on Political Parties' Statements of Accounts 2018

The Standards in Public Office Commission (the Standards Commission) has today published its annual report on statements of accounts provided to it by political parties registered in Ireland.

The Electoral Act 1997, as amended by the Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012, requires all registered political parties to submit audited statements of accounts to the Standards Commission by 30 June following the end of the calendar year to which the accounts relate.

The report contains an overview of the Act's obligations, and provides information on the compliance status of all parties subject to the Act. There were 19 registered political parties required to provide statements of accounts for 2018. Ten parties were found to be fully compliant with their legal obligations to provide an annual statement of accounts. Five parties provided a statement of accounts that did not comply with the Act, while four political parties failed to provide a statement of accounts.

The Standards Commission remains of the view that the requirement on all registered political parties to furnish statements of accounts and to have them audited by a public auditor, regardless of the size of the party or the extent of its income and expenditure, is excessive.  Therefore, the Commission again recommends that the legislation be reviewed with a view to exempting smaller parties from the requirement to furnish audited statements of accounts to the Commission.

In accordance with the requirements of the Act, a copy of this report will be furnished to the Chairman of Dáil Éireann and to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. The Standards Commission report on Political Parties' Statements of Accounts 2018 is available here.

Background

The Standards in Public Office Commission was established in 2001. It is an independent, non-partisan body responsible for overseeing the Ethics in Public Office Acts, the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended), the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) (Amendment) Act 2014, and the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015.

Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2 D02 HE97

Telephone: 01 - 6395666
E-mail: info@sipo.ie
Website: www.sipo.ie
Twitter: @SIPOCIreland

Press Release – Reports on State Financing of Political Parties in 2018

The Standards in Public Office Commission has today published two reports on the state financing of political parties and independent TDs and Senators during 2018.

Exchequer Funding of Political Parties in 2018

Political parties may qualify for funding from the Exchequer under the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended) based on their percentage of the vote in the last Dáil election.

In 2018, eight political parties qualified for Exchequer funding under the Electoral Act: Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Green Party, the Labour Party, Renua, Sinn Féin, Social Democrats and Solidarity – People Before Profit. The eight parties received funding totalling €5.964 million under the electoral legislation in 2018. The funding may not be used for electoral or referendum purposes.

Total expenditure reported for the year was €5.978 million.

Details of the funding, including how it was spent and accompanying statements, are contained in the report entitled Exchequer Funding of Political Parties in 2018, published today by the Standards Commission. This report is available at: www.sipo.ie.

Parliamentary Activities Allowance

Party leaders and independent members of the Oireachtas may receive funding under the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) (Amendment) Act 2014, informally known as the “Parliamentary Activities Allowance”.

A political party can qualify for payment under Parliamentary Activities Allowance legislation if they have registered in the Register of Political Parties and have had at least one member elected to Dáil Éireann or elected or nominated to Seanad Éireann at the last general election. Independent members of the Oireachtas are also eligible.

In 2018, there were eight parties that qualified for the allowance, namely: Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Green Party, Independents 4 Change, the Labour Party, Sinn Féin, Social Democrats and Solidarity – People Before Profit. The total funding payable in 2018 to the parliamentary party leaders of these parties amounted to €7.587 million.

The funding payable to non-party members of the Dáil during 2018 amounted to €703,704.

The funding payable to non-party members of the Seanad during 2018 amounted to €309,121.

Total reported spending during the year, by both parties and independent members who submitted returns, amounted to €9.053 million.

Details of the funding, how it was spent and accompanying statements are contained in the report, entitled Exchequer Funding under the Parliamentary Activities Allowance Legislation in 2018. This report is available at: www.sipo.ie.

***

Contact: Press Officer

Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2

Telephone: 01 - 6395666
E-mail: info@sipo.ie
Website:www.sipo.ie
Twitter: @SIPOCIreland

Background

The Standards Commission was created in 2001, and is the independent body charged with oversight of the Ethics in Public Office Acts (1995 and 2001), the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended), the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) (Amendment) Act 2014, and the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015.

The members of the Standards Commission are:

  • Mr Justice Daniel O'Keeffe, Chairperson;
  • Seamus McCarthy, Comptroller and Auditor General;
  • Peter Tyndall, Ombudsman;
  • Peter Finnegan, Clerk of Dáil Éireann;
  • Martin Groves, Clerk of Seanad Éireann; and
  • Jim O'Keeffe, former TD.

The Commission is supported by a permanent Secretariat, located at 18 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2.

Press Release - Political Parties Disclose Donations Received in 2018

Political Parties

Figures released today by the Standards in Public Office Commission in its annual report of political party donations show that political parties disclosed donations valued at €159,819 for 2018.

There were 19 political parties registered during 2018 to contest Dáil or European elections. Each of these parties was required to furnish a Donation Statement in respect of 2018 to the Commission by 31 March 2019, disclosing donations exceeding €1,500 in value received during 2018. The maximum value of donations which a political party may accept from the same donor in the same year is €2,500.

Accounting units

An accounting unit is a branch or other subsidiary organisation of a political party which receives a donation in excess of €100 in any year. An accounting unit, on receipt of a monetary donation in excess of €100, must open and maintain a political donations account in a financial institution in the State. By 31 March each year, accounting units must furnish to the Commission a statement from the financial institution in which the account is held, together with a Certificate of Monetary Donations.

In accordance with the legislation, details of Certificates of Monetary Donations and bank statements furnished to the Commission by political parties and their accounting units are not laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas or put on public display.

The aggregate closing balance held by accounting units in relation to 2018 was €1,150,073.

The Commission's report, entitled Donations to Political Parties 2018, gives details of the donations disclosed by political parties as well as information on accounting units. The report and the political party donations statements are available at: www.sipo.ie

Contact: Press Officer

Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2

Telephone: 01 - 6395666
E-mail: info@sipo.ie
Website:www.sipo.ie
Twitter:@SIPOCIreland

Background

The Standards Commission was created in 2001, and is the independent body charged with oversight of the Ethics in Public Office Acts (1995 and 2001), the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended), the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices)(Amendment) Act 2014, and the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015.

The members of the Standards Commission are:

  • Mr Justice Daniel O'Keeffe, Chairperson;
  • Seamus McCarthy, Comptroller and Auditor General;
  • Peter Tyndall, Ombudsman;
  • Peter Finnegan, Clerk of Dáil Éireann;
  • Martin Groves, Clerk of Seanad Éireann; and
  • Jim O'Keeffe, former TD.

Press Release - Report on Presidential Election 2018

Standards in Public Office Commission reports on Presidential Election 2018

The Standards in Public Office Commission (the Standards Commission) has today published its report on the 2018 Presidential Election. The report provides information on election spending and the disclosure of donation by election agents.

The 2018 election period began on 28 August 2018 and ended on polling day on 26 October 2018. Expenditure on property, goods or services outside of this period was not required to be accounted for.

Election expenses of €1.36 million were disclosed by election agents, a decrease of 41% on the €2.32 million figure reported for the 2011 election.

Donations with a total value of €74,300 were disclosed by 3 candidates (equivalent figure in 2011 was €304,570).

Two candidates qualified for reimbursement of election expenses, and the total certified for payment was €319,911.30.

The Standards Commission report on the 2018 Presidential Election is available at www.sipo.ie

Background

The Standards in Public Office Commission is an independent body responsible for overseeing the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995, the Standards in Public Office Act 2001, the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended), the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Activities) (Amendment) Act 2014, and the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015.

The Standards Commission was created by the Standards in Public Office Act 2001.

Contact: Press Officer

Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2
D02 HE97
Telephone: 01 6395666
E-mail: info@sipo.ie
 

The Standards in Public Office Commission (the Commission) today published its annual report for 2018. The report provides a summary of the Commission’s activities during 2018 under legislation relating to ethics in public office, electoral financing and State funding. It includes information regarding operations and compliance with the ethics legislation, complaints and investigations, political donations, state financing of political parties and the registration of third parties and corporate donors.

Under the Ethics Acts, the Commission processed 29 complaints in 2018, completed one preliminary inquiry, and held four investigation hearings, with three reports published during the year. These were in addition to 80 investigations and 6 reports into non-compliance with the Act’s provisions regarding tax compliance.

Under the Electoral Act, the Commission supervised election finance for the presidential election held in October 2018. A report on the presidential election will be published in 2019. The Commission also published annual statutory reports on the Seanad bye-election held in April, reports on donations to political parties, TDs, Senators and MEPs, political party accounts and accounting units.

In its report for 2018, the Commission once again has renewed its calls for electoral reform. While the Commission notes some welcome movement in this regard. It is hoped that such structural change would be accompanied by a full legislative review of the Electoral Act, which is now over 20 years old and requires modernisation.

As in previous years, the Standards Commission has included in its annual report a number of recommendations for legislative change to the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended) and to the Ethics in Public Office Acts. These changes, if implemented will serve to clarify and strengthen the provisions of the legislation administered by the Commission.

 

For more information, and to read the Commission’s annual report visit the website www.sipo.ie.

For further information please contact:

Press Officer
Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2
(01) 6395666

 

Email:             info@sipo.ie

Website:         www.sipo.ie

Twitter:           @SIPOCIreland

 

Background

The Standards Commission was created in 2001, and is the independent body charged with oversight of the Ethics in Public Office Acts (1995 and 2001), the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended), the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices)(Amendment) Act 2014, and the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015.

 

The members of the Standards Commission are:

  • Mr Justice Daniel O'Keeffe, Chairperson;
  • Seamus McCarthy, Comptroller and Auditor General;
  • Peter Tyndall, Ombudsman;
  • Peter Finnegan, Clerk of Dáil Éireann;
  • Martin Groves, Clerk of Seanad Éireann; and
  • Jim O'Keeffe, former TD.

The Commission publishes two annual reports each year; one on its activities administering ethics, electoral and State financing legislation, and the other on its activities administering the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015. The separate annual report on the Regulation of Lobbying in 2018 was published on 27 June and may be viewed on www.lobbying.ie.

 

Standards Commission reports on donations received in 2018 by TDs, Senators and MEPS

The Standards Commission has today published a report on donations made to TDs, Senators and MEPs in 2018. The report also contains information on other donations required to be disclosed.

Public representatives’ donation statements

For the 2018 reporting period, a total of 230 public representatives — 158 TDs, 60 Senators, 1 former Senator and 11 Members of the European Parliament – were required to make donation statements by 31 January 2019.  All of these individuals are in substantive compliance, although a number filed returns after the deadline.

Under the Act, public representatives may not accept donations in any year of more than €200 in cash, and not more than €1,000 in total value from a single source.  They must disclose any donations valued at (or totalling) €600 or more received from an individual source.

For 2018, five public representatives disclosed donations with a total value of €6,480.

There were no donations disclosed that exceeded the maximum limit of €1,000. 

Public representatives may only accept donations from corporate donors that are registered as such with the Commission. 

The Standards Commission's report and individual donation statements may be viewed online at Members Donation Statement Report 2018

Background

Under the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended), public representatives who are members of the Houses of the Oireachtas or the European Parliament must disclose to the Standards in Public Office Commission (the Standards Commission) details of donations they receive above a certain value.

The Standards in Public Office Commission is an independent body responsible for overseeing the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995, the Standards in Public Office Act 2001, the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended), the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Activities) (Amendment) Act 2014, and the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015.

The Standards Commission was created by the Standards in Public Office Act 2001.

Contact: Press Officer
Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2
D02 HE97
Telephone: 01 6395666

E-mail: sipo@sipo.ie

Press Release - Investigation Report by the Standards in Public Office Commission

The Commission has today published two separate reports as a result of investigations into alleged contraventions of the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995 and 2001 and part 15 of the Local Government Act 2001. The reports follow investigation hearings into the conduct of  Councillor Joe Queenan, Sligo County Council and Councillor John O’Donnell, Donegal County Council, which were conducted on 10 September 2018 and 11 September 2018, respectively.

The Commission finds against Councillor Queenan in respect of three of the four alleged contraventions. The Commission also finds against Councillor O’Donnell in respect of all three of the alleged contraventions.

In accordance with the requirements of section 24 of the Ethics Act and section 180 of the Local Government Act 2001, the Commission has furnished copies of its reports to both Councillors, the Cathaoirleach and Chief Executive of each Council and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

The investigation reports, together with full details of the Commission’s findings and determinations are available here: www.sipo.ie

Background

The Standards in Public Office Commission is an independent body responsible for overseeing the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995, the Standards in Public Office Act 2001, the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended), the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Activities) (Amendment) Act 2014, and the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015.

The Standards Commission was created by the Standards in Public Office Act 2001. It has six members and is chaired by a former judge of the High Court. The current chair is Mr Justice Daniel O’Keeffe. Other members are: Seamus McCarthy, Comptroller and Auditor General; Peter Tyndall, Ombudsman; Peter Finnegan, Clerk of Dáil Éireann; Martin Groves, Clerk of Seanad Éireann, and Jim O’Keeffe, former member of Dáil Éireann.

For more information, or to view the reports, visit www.sipo.ie.

Press Officer
Telephone: (01) 6395666

Email: sipo@sipo.ie

Website: www.sipo.ie

Twitter: @SIPOCIreland

Standards Commission releases reports into non-compliance with Ethics Legislation

The Standards in Public Office Commission today released two reports of their investigations into non-compliance with the Ethics in Public Office Acts (the Acts).

Under the Standards in Public Office Act 2001 (the Act), appointees to senior positions of employment in, or to directorships of, public bodies are required to provide evidence to the Commission of compliance with taxation legislation within statutory timeframes.  The Act also requires the Commission to investigate any contraventions of the tax clearance provisions that may arise.

The reports released today pertain to individuals who have failed to comply with their obligations to provide evidence of tax compliance to the Commission on their appointment to senior office. On foot of their investigations, the Commission has found the following individuals have failed to comply with the tax compliance provisions of the Acts:

  • Mr Ciaran Brady, Consultant, Mercy University Hospital, Cork
  • Dr Bryan Jones, Consultant, Galway University Hospital

As required by the Acts, the Commission has laid a copy of these reports before the Oireachtas and has provided a copy to the individual and the person’s employing public body.

While, on this occasion, the reports deal with the non-compliance of individuals who happen to be employed as medical consultants, it is not the case that only consultants are subject to the Act's tax compliance obligations. Senior office holders in a wide range of public bodies must provide evidence of tax compliance on appointment, and all such persons may be investigated by the Commission for non-compliance with the Act.  

Where the Commission is aware of appointments to senior office, it seeks to achieve compliance of the individual concerned. Most individuals who are notified of their obligations do comply. If an individual fails to comply or does not engage, the Commission launches an investigation. The published reports relate to individuals appointed to senior office where the public body concerned has notified the Commission of the appointment, thereby facilitating the compliance of its employees with the Acts. The Commission notes that there may be a number of appointees to senior office that have escaped scrutiny as not all public bodies notify the Commission of appointments to public office. For the purposes of ensuring that individuals subject to tax clearance obligations are aware of their obligations and to facilitate compliance, the Commission has asked all public bodies to provide details of all relevant appointments made.  There is no statutory requirement for public bodies to do so, and as a result, adherence to the Commission’s request has been inconsistent.

The Commission commented in its most recent annual report on the difficulties it continues to experience in overseeing these provisions due to the fact that not all public bodies are providing the necessary information, which in turn makes it difficult to identify individuals subject to the Act’s provisions.  The failure by public bodies to provide the necessary information has the effect of obstructing the effective implementation of these provisions of the Act, and places the employees in a position of non-compliance, for which they could be subject to investigation.

The Commission will continue to pursue the compliance of individual appointees and continue to seek timely information from public bodies about appointments to senior office.  Further reports may issue in other cases of non-compliance.  

For more information, and to read the investigation reports, go to the Commission’s website at www.sipo.ie.

Background

The Standards Commission is the independent body charged with oversight of the Ethics in Public Office Acts (1995 and 2001), the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended) and the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015.

The members of the Standards Commission are:

  • Justice Daniel O'Keeffe, Chairperson;
  • Seamus McCarthy, Comptroller and Auditor General;
  • Peter Tyndall, Ombudsman;
  • Peter Finnegan, Clerk of Dáil Éireann;
  • Martin Groves, Clerk of Seanad Éireann; and
  • Jim O'Keeffe, former TD.

Relevant Legislation

  • Ethics in Public Office Act 1995
  • Standards in Public Office Act 2001

Section 23 of the Standards Act 2001

Evidence of compliance with Acts by holders of senior office.

23.—(1) A person who is appointed to a senior office after the commencement of this section shall, not more than 9 months after the date on which he or she is so appointed (“the appointment date”), furnish to the Commission—

(a) (i) a tax clearance certificate that is in force and was issued to the person not more than 9 months before, and not more than 9 months after, the appointment date,

or

(ii) an application statement that was issued to the person and was made not more than 9 months before, and not more than 9 months after, the appointment date,

and

(b)     a statutory declaration made by the person not more than one month before, and not more than one month after, the appointment date to the effect that, at the time of the making of the declaration, the person is, to the best of his or her knowledge and belief, in compliance with the obligations specified in subsection (1) of section 25 and that nothing in subsection (2) of that section prevents the issue to him or her of a tax clearance certificate.

(2) If a person contravenes subsection (1), the Commission shall investigate the matter and shall draw up a report in writing of the results of its investigation and furnish a copy of it to the public body concerned.

(3) The Commission shall cause copies of a report under subsection (2) to be laid before each House.

Press Release - Investigation Report by the Standards in Public Office Commission

The Commission has today published three separate reports as a result of an investigation into alleged contraventions of Part 15 of the Local Government Act 2001 by Councillor Frank Durcan, Councillor Cyril Burke, both of Mayo County Council and Mr Peter Hynes, Chief Executive of Mayo County Council.  The reports follow an investigation hearing which was conducted in private over seven days during the period 23 October 2017 to 16 February 2018.  

The Commission finds against Councillor Durcan in respect of two of the three alleged contraventions. The Commission also finds against Councillor Burke in respect of two of the five alleged contraventions. The Commission makes no findings against Mr Hynes. 

In accordance with the requirements of section 24 of the Ethics Act and section 180 of the Local Government Act 2001, the Commission has sent copies of the relevant reports to:

1.      Councillor Frank Durcan, Councillor Cyril Burke and Mr Peter Hynes.

2.      Councillor Blackie Gavin, Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council.

3.      Paschal Donohue TD, Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform.

The investigation reports, together with full details of the Commission’s findings and determinations, are available here:

1. Durcan 

2. Burke 

3. Hynes 

Press Release - Report on Political Parties' Statements of Accounts 2017

The Standards in Public Office Commission (the Standards Commission) has today published its third annual report of statements of accounts provided to it by political parties registered in Ireland. 

The Electoral Act 1997, as amended by the Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012, requires all registered political parties to submit audited statements of accounts to the Standards Commission by 30 June following the end of the calendar year to which the accounts relate. This is the third year that political parties have been required to furnish audited statements of accounts to the Commission.

The report contains an overview of the Act's obligations, and provides information on the compliance status of all parties subject to the Act. 

The Standards Commission remains of the view that smaller parties, especially those that receive no funding from the Exchequer under either the electoral or party activities allowance legislation or those that receive only a small level of private donations, should be exempt from the requirement to furnish audited statements of accounts to the Standards Commission. The Standards Commission agrees that the requirement to furnish statements should remain, but that it is unnecessary in these circumstances for the statements to be audited. 

In accordance with the requirements of the Act, a copy of this report will be furnished to the Chairman of Dáil Éireann and to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. 
The Standards Commission report on Political Parties' Statements of Accounts 2017 is available at: www.sipo.ie

Background

The Standards in Public Office Commission is an independent body responsible for overseeing the Ethics in Public Office Acts, the Regulation of Lobbying Act and the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended). The Standards Commission was created by the 2001 Standards in Public Office Act.

Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2
D02 HE97

Media Queries: Sherry Perreault
Telephone: 01 - 6395666
E-mail: sipo@sipo.ie
Website: www.sipo.ie
Twitter: @SIPOCIreland

The Standards in Public Office Commission today has launched its new Language Scheme under the Official Languages Act 2003. This Scheme was approved by the Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs on 19 September 2018 and takes effect from today. It will remain in place for a period of 3 years from this date or until a new Scheme has been confirmed by the Minister under section 15 of the Official Languages Act.

The scheme aims to consolidate and continue to build on the Standards Commission's delivery of services in the Irish language. The Standards Commission is committed to providing the full range of services through Irish and all documents published on its websites will be in both the Irish and English language. While the Commission already provides services in both languages, areas for future enhancement of these services are identified in the scheme.

To view a copy of the Language Scheme, visit the website

Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2
D02 HE97

Media Queries
Telephone: 01 - 6395666
E-mail: sipo@sipo.ie
Website: www.sipo.ie
Twitter: @SIPOCIreland

Background

The Standards in Public Office Commission is an independent body responsible for overseeing the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001, the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 and the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended). The Standards Commission was created by the Standards in Public Office Act 2001.

Standards Commission publishes Presidential Election Guidelines

The Standards in Public Office Commission has today published the final Guidelines for the Presidential Election to be held on 26 October 2018. The Guidelines cover the main requirements of the Electoral Act relating to:

  • political donations;
  • election spending; and
  • reimbursement of election expenses to qualified candidates.

Candidates and their election agents are encouraged to contact the Standards in Public Office Commission directly should they have any queries in relation to their statutory obligations.

To view a copy of the Guidelines, visit the website

For further information, please contact:

Rosanne Meehan, Press Officer

Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2

Telephone: 01 - 6395666
E-mail: sipo@sipo.ie
Website:www.sipo.ie
Twitter:@SIPOCIreland

***

Background

The Standards Commission is the independent body charged with oversight of the Ethics in Public Office Acts (1995 and 2001), the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended) and the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015.

The members of the Standards Commission are:

  • Justice Daniel O'Keeffe, Chairperson;
  • Seamus McCarthy, Comptroller and Auditor General;
  • Peter Tyndall, Ombudsman;
  • Peter Finnegan, Clerk of Dáil Éireann;
  • Martin Groves, Clerk of Seanad Éireann; and
  • Jim O'Keeffe, former TD.

STANDARDS COMMISSION PUBLISHES ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2017

The Standards in Public Office Commission (the Commission) today published its annual report for 2017. The report provides a summary of the Commission’s activities during 2017 under ethics and electoral legislation. It includes information regarding compliance under the Ethics in Public Office Acts and the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended), including complaints and investigations, donations, state financing of political parties and the registration of third parties and corporate donors.

Under the Ethics Acts, the Commission closed 38 complaints in 2017, completed a preliminary inquiry, issued a report into a completed investigation, continued three investigations into other cases of possible non-compliance, and launched a further 41 investigations into non-compliance with the Act's provisions regarding tax compliance.

With regard to the latter, the Commission notes the important role that public bodies play in the compliance of their employees with the provisions of the Act. In the report, the Commission calls for an amendment to the Act to require public bodies to provide timely information regarding appointments to senior office. Without such information, individuals employed by those bodies may find themselves in breach of the Acts by failing to provide evidence of tax compliance within statutory deadlines.

During 2017, the Commission examined a complaint where information came to light indicating that there may have been a contravention of the Ethics Acts by a former member of the Dáil. Due to a lacuna in the Legislation there is no mechanism for examining possible contraventions by a member of the Oireachtas (other than a Minister or Minister of State) in circumstances where the matter only comes to light after the member has left office.  The Commission recommends in its annual report that the legislation be amended to expressly deal with situations where a member of the Oireachtas may have contravened their obligations under the Ethics Acts and the matter only comes to light after the member has left office.

The Commission also reports on activities under the Electoral Act, and issues separate statutory reports on some of these activities. In this report, the Commission raises concerns over the lack of regulation dealing with expenditure at referendums. The Electoral Act 1997 is silent on expenditure on referendums, with neither expenditure limits nor disclosures contemplated by the Act.

The Commission also notes the increasing importance of digital advertising and social media campaigns. Although there are prohibitions on foreign political donations other than in specific circumstances, the Commission is concerned that individuals and organisations based outside of Ireland may influence the outcome of an election or referendum by funding political advertising or digital campaigns, which are currently unregulated by the Act.

Commission Chairman Daniel O'Keeffe said, “As no legislative framework currently exists to address these matters, it would appear that an important and continually evolving tool in modern Irish political discourse is unregulated. This allows for foreign actors to influence Irish elections and referendums, with potentially significant consequences. The Commission recommends that the Act be reviewed with a view to addressing this. This should preferably be done in the context of the creation of an electoral commission.”

As in previous years, the Standards Commission has included in its annual report a number of recommendations for legislative change to the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended) and to the Ethics in Public Office Acts. These changes, if implemented will serve to clarify and strengthen the provisions of the legislation administered by the Commission.

A separate annual report on the Regulation of Lobbying in 2017 was published on 28 June and may be viewed on www.lobbying.ie.

For more information, and to read the Commission’s annual report visit the website www.sipo.ie.

For further information please contact:

Rosanne Meehan, Press Officer

Standards in Public Office Commission

18 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2

(01) 6395666

Email:                     sipo@sipo.ie

Website:                 www.sipo.ie

Twitter:                     @SIPOCIreland

Background

The Standards Commission is the independent body charged with oversight of the Ethics in Public Office Acts (1995 and 2001), the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended) and the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015.

The members of the Standards Commission are:

  • Justice Daniel O'Keeffe, Chairperson;
  • Seamus McCarthy, Comptroller and Auditor General;
  • Peter Tyndall, Ombudsman;
  • Peter Finnegan, Clerk of Dáil Éireann;
  • Martin Groves, Clerk of Seanad Éireann; and
  • Jim O'Keeffe, former TD.

The Commission publishes two annual reports each year; one on its activities administering the Ethics in Public Office Acts and the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended), and the other on its activities administering the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015.

Press Release - Report on Seanad Bye-Election 2018

Standards in Public Office Commission 
Press Release

The Standards in Public Office Commission (the Standards Commission) has today published its report on the 2018 Seanad Bye-Election.

9 candidates contested the election for 2 seats on the Agriculture Panel. Senator Anthony Lawlor and Senator Ian Marshall were elected.

In accordance with the provisions of Part IV of the Act, unsuccessful candidates at the Seanad Bye-Election were required, within 56 days after the relevant day on which the poll closed, to furnish to the Standards Commission a donation statement and accompanying documentation. The date by which donation statements were required to be received by the Standards Commission was 22 June 2018. All unsuccessful candidates had complied with their obligations by the deadline date. There were no donations disclosed at the Seanad Bye-Election.

Successful candidates at the election are required, as members of Seanad Éireann, to furnish an annual donation statement and accompanying documentation to the Standards Commission by 31 January each year. The donation statements to be furnished to the Standards Commission in respect of 2018 by members of Seanad Éireann must include details of any donations received by them during 2018 in relation to the Seanad Bye-Election. These statements must be furnished to the Standards Commission by 31 January 2019.

The Standards Commission Report on the Seanad Bye-Election 2018 is available at www.sipo.ie

Background


The Standards in Public Office Commission is an independent body responsible for overseeing the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001, the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 and the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended). The Standards Commission was created by the Standards in Public Office Act 2001.

For more information, please contact

Rosanne Meehan, Press Officer

Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2
D02 HE97
Telephone: 01 - 6395666
E-mail: sipo@sipo.ie
Website: www.sipo.ie
Twitter: @SIPOCIreland

The Standards in Public Office Commission today released its yearly report on Exchequer funding received by political parties for 2017.

In 2017, eight political parties qualified for Exchequer funding under the Act: Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Green Party, the Labour Party, Renua, Sinn Féin, Social Democrats and Solidarity – People Before Profit. The eight parties received funding totalling €5.963 million under the electoral legislation in 2017. The funding is not subject to income tax and may not be used for electoral or referendum purposes.

Total expenditure reported for the year was €5.536 million.

Details of the funding, including how it was spent and accompanying statements, are contained in the report published today by the Standards Commission, entitled Exchequer Funding of Political Parties in 2017.

This report is available at: www.sipo.ie

Contact: Rosanne Meehan, Press Officer

Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2

Telephone: 01 - 6395666
E-mail: sipo@sipo.ie
Website:www.sipo.ie
Twitter:@SIPOCIreland

Press Release – Standards Commission releases 2017 report on Parliamentary Activities Allowance for Political Parties and Independent Members

The Standards Commission today released a report on the state funding of political parties and independent members under the legislation governing the Parliamentary Activities Allowance.

A qualifying party is defined in the Act as a political party, registered in the Register of Political Parties, which contested the last preceding general election and which had at least one member elected to Dáil Éireann or elected or nominated to Seanad Éireann.

In 2017, there were nine parties that qualified for the allowance, namely: Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Green Party, Independents 4 Change, the Labour Party, Sinn Féin, Social Democrats, Socialist Party and Solidarity – People Before Profit. The total funding payable in 2017 to the parliamentary party leaders of these parties amounted to €7.629 million. Eight of the nine parties submitted the required returns and are in compliance; one remains outstanding.

The funding payable to non-party members of the Dáil during 2017 amounted to €703,704.

The funding payable to non-party members of the Seanad during 2017 amounted to €299,891.

Total reported spending during the year, by both parties and independent members who submitted returns, amounted to €7.359 million.

The Standards Commission does not have a role in the allocation of this funding, but it has a supervisory role in relation to expenditure of the funds.

Details of the funding, how it was spent and the accompanying Statements of Expenditure and Auditors’ Reports are contained in the report, entitled Exchequer Funding under the Parliamentary Activities Allowance Legislation in 2017, published today by the Standards Commission. This report is available at: www.sipo.ie

Contact: Rosanne Meehan, Press Officer

Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2

Telephone: 01 - 6395666
e-mail: sipo@sipo.ie
website:www.sipo.ie
Twitter:@SIPOCIreland

Press Release - Political Parties Disclose Donations Received in 2017

Political Parties

Figures released today by the Standards in Public Office Commission in its annual report of political party donations show that political parties disclosed donations valued at €156,699 for 2017.

There were 19 political parties registered during 2017 to contest Dáil or European elections. Each of these parties was required to furnish a Donation Statement in respect of 2017 to the Commission by 31 March 2018, disclosing donations exceeding €1,500 in value received during 2017. The maximum value of donations which a political party may accept from the same donor in the same year is €2,500.

Accounting units

An accounting unit is a branch or other subsidiary organisation of a political party which receives a donation in excess of €100 in any year. An accounting unit, on receipt of a monetary donation in excess of €100, must open and maintain a political donations account in a financial institution in the State. By 31 March each year, accounting units must furnish to the Commission a statement from the financial institution in which the account is held, together with a Certificate of Monetary Donations.

In accordance with the legislation, details of Certificates of Monetary Donations and bank statements furnished to the Commission by political parties and their accounting units are not laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas nor put on public display.

The aggregate closing balance held by accounting units in relation to 2017 was €922,508.

The Commission's report, entitled Donations to Political Parties 2017, gives details of the donations disclosed by political parties as well as information on accounting units. The report and the political party donations statements are available at: www.sipo.ie

Contact: Rosanne Meehan, Press Officer

Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2

Telephone: 01 - 6395666
E-mail: sipo@sipo.ie
Website:www.sipo.ie
Twitter:@SIPOCIreland

Standards Commission reports on donations received in 2017 by TDs, Senators and MEPS

Under the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended), public representatives who are members of the Houses of the Oireachtas or the European Parliament must disclose to the Standards in Public Office Commission (the Standards Commission) details of donations they receive above a certain value. The Standards Commission has today published a report on donation disclosures for 2017. The report also contains information on other donations required to be disclosed.

Public representatives’ donation statements

For the 2017 reporting period, a total of 229 public representatives — 158 TDs, 60 Senators and 11 Members of the European Parliament – were required to make donation statements by 31 January 2018.  All of these individuals are in substantive compliance, although a number filed returns after the deadline.

Under the Act, public representatives may not accept donations in any year of more than €200 in cash, and not more than €1,000 in total value from a single source.  They must disclose any donations valued at (or totalling) €600 or more received from an individual source. For 2017, seven public representatives disclosed donations with a total value of €6,360.

There were no donations disclosed that exceeded the maximum limit of €1,000.00. 

Public representatives may only accept donations from corporate donors that are registered as such with the Commission. 

The Standards Commission's report and individual Donation Statements may be viewed online at www.sipo.ie

Background

The Standards in Public Office Commission is an independent body responsible for overseeing the Ethics in Public Office Acts, the Regulation of Lobbying Act and the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended). The Standards Commission was created by the 2001 Standards in Public Office Act.

Contact: Rosanne Meehan, Press Officer
Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2
D02 HE97
Telephone: 01 - 6395666

The Standards in Public Office Commission has noted a number of recent stories published regarding the Commission's administration of the Electoral Act. In particular, questions have been raised regarding whether the Commission's approach to the administration of the Act's provisions regarding political donations has changed in recent months. It has not.

The Electoral Act 1997 (as amended) governs political donations, setting out obligations for registration of third parties, acceptance and disclosure thresholds and prohibiting certain types of donations. Any individual or organisation that accepts a donation over €100.00 given for political purposes is required to register as a Third Party, and is then subject to the Act's donation limits and disclosure thresholds. It is important to note that it is the intent of the giver, and not the use of the funds, that determines whether a donation is considered a political donation for the purposes of the Act.  The onus is on the third party to adhere to the obligations of the Act.

The Act also sets out prohibitions on political donations given by foreign individuals or organisations. Specifically, the Act prohibits donations from an individual other than an Irish citizen who resides outside the island of Ireland, or a donation from a body corporate or unincorporated body of persons which does not keep an office in the island of Ireland from which one or more of its principal activities is directed. The purpose of these prohibitions is to protect against interference by foreign individuals or entities in Ireland's domestic political processes, including elections and referendums. Prohibited donations must be refused or returned.

Where the Commission has information that an organisation may have received a prohibited donation, the Commission may make inquiries. If the Commission is satisfied that no evidence exists that a prohibited donation was received, the Commission will not pursue the matter further. However, if the Commission subsequently receives new or contradictory information, the Commission may review its previous decision with a view to ensuring the Act's objectives are met.

In 2016, the Commission received information that several Irish organisations had received donations from a foreign donor. At the time, the Commission made inquiries and received assurances from the recipients that the donations were not for political purposes. However, the Commission recently received new information that indicated the donations were indeed for political purposes. The Commission sought and received written confirmation from the donor that the funding was for explicitly political purposes. As it is the intent of the donor that determines whether a donation is a political donation, the funding very clearly fell within the Act's prohibitions. The Commission has issued directives to the recipients to return the prohibited donations. In so doing, the Commission has administered the Act as enacted by the Oireachtas. The Commission rejects any assertion that its actions are out of keeping with the provisions or intent of the Act, or that it has acted inconsistently.  The Commission has not changed its approach to implementing the provisions of the Act.

Background

The Standards in Public Office Commission is an independent, non-partisan body with oversight responsibility for the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended), the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001, and the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015. Established in 2001 by the Standards in Public Office Act, the Commission has 6 members and is supported by a Secretariat.

For further information or queries:

Sherry Perreault
Head of Ethics and Lobbying Regulation
Standards in Public Office Commission
(01) 639-5715
sherry.perreault@sipo.ie

The Standards in Public Office Commission (the Standards Commission) has today published its second annual report of statements of accounts provided to it by political parties registered in Ireland. 

The Electoral Act 1997, as amended by the Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012, requires all registered political parties to submit audited statements of accounts to the Standards Commission by 30 June following the end of the calendar year to which the accounts relate. This is the second year that political parties have been required to furnish audited statements of accounts to the Commission.

The report contains an overview of the Act's obligations, and provides information on the compliance status of all parties subject to the Act. 

Following a consultative process with political parties and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Guidelines were updated and revised in July 2017 to reflect practical experience administering the Act.

As mentioned previously in the 2015 report the Standards Commission remains of the view to exempt smaller parties, especially those that receive no funding from the Exchequer under either the electoral or party activities allowance legislation, from the requirement to furnish audited statements of accounts to the Standards Commission. The Standards Commission agrees that the requirement to furnish statements should remain, but that it is unnecessary in these circumstances for the statements to be audited. 

In accordance with the requirements of the Act, a copy of this report will be furnished to the Chairman of Dáil Éireann and to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. 
The Standards Commission report on Political Parties' Statements of Accounts 2016 is available at: www.sipo.ie

Background


The Standards in Public Office Commission is an independent body responsible for overseeing the Ethics in Public Office Acts, the Regulation of Lobbying Act and the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended). The Standards Commission was created by the 2001 Standards in Public Office Act.

Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2
D02 HE97

Press Officer: Rebecca Coyle
Telephone: 01 - 6395721
E-mail: rebecca.coyle@sipo.ie
Website: www.sipo.ie
Twitter: @SIPOCIreland

The Standards in Public Office Commission today published its fifteenth annual report for the 2016 reporting year. The Commission’s annual report provides a summary of its activities during 2016 under ethics and electoral legislation concerning complaints and investigations, donations, election expenses, state financing of political parties and the registration of third parties and corporate donors. A separate annual report on the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 was published on 3 July 2017.

2016 was a busy year for the Standards Commission, with the Dáil and Seanad elections, the completion of one investigation and the launch of another completed in 2017, and the implementation of new provisions requiring political parties to provide audited statements of accounts to the Commission. The Commission also published a number of statutory reports throughout 2016, including reports on the compliance of unsuccessful candidates in the Dáil and Seanad elections.

As in previous years, the Standards Commission has included in its annual report a number of recommendations for legislative change to the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended) and to the Ethics in Public Office Acts. These changes, if implemented will serve to clarify and strengthen the provisions of the legislation administered by the Commission.

Standards Commission Annual Report 2016

Background

The Standards Commission is the independent body charged with oversight of the Ethics in Public Office Acts (1995 and 2001), the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended) and the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015.

The members of the Standards Commission are:
Mr Justice Daniel O'Keeffe, Chairperson;
Mr Peter Finnegan, Clerk of Dáil Éireann;
Mr Martin Groves, Cerk of Seanad Éireann; and
Mr Seamus McCarthy, Comptroller and Auditor General;
Mr Jim O'Keefe, former TD; and
Mr Peter Tyndall, Ombudsman

For further information please contact:

Contact: Rebecca Coyle, Press Officer
Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2
D02 HE97
Telephone: 01 - 6395666 

The Standards Commission today released a report on the state funding of political parties and independent members under the parliamentary activities allowance legislation.

The total funding made available in 2016 to the parliamentary party leaders of the nine qualifying parties (Anti-Austerity Alliance - People before Profit, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Green Party, Independents 4 Change, Sinn Féin, Social Democrats, Socialist Party and the Labour Party) amounted to €7.215 million. 

A qualifying party is defined in the Act as a political party, registered in the Register of Political Parties, which contested the last preceding general election and which had at least one member elected to Dáil Éireann or elected or nominated to Seanad Éireann.

The funding made available to non-party members of the Dáil during 2016 amounted to a total of €640,887. 

The funding made available to non-party members of the Seanad during 2015 amounted to a total of €249,159. 

Total spending during the year, by parties and independent members, was €8.034 million.

The Standards Commission does not have a role in the allocation of this funding, but it has a supervisory role in relation to the spending of the funds.

Details of the funding, how it was spent and the accompanying Statements of Expenditure and Auditors’ Reports are contained in the report published today by the Standards Commission.  This report is available at www.sipo.ie

Contact: Adam Conway, Press Officer

Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2

Telephone: 01 - 6395666
e-mail: sipo@sipo.ie
website:www.sipo.ie
Twitter:  @SIPOCIreland

The Standards in Public Office Commission today released its report on Exchequer funding received by political parties for 2016.

Based on the results of the Dáil general election held on 26 February 2016, eight political parties qualified for Exchequer funding under the Act. As was the case last year, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Sinn Féin were included. New in 2016 were Anti-Austerity Alliance – People Before Profit, the Green Party, Renua and Social Democrats.

The eight parties received funding totalling €5.882 million under the electoral legislation in 2016. The funding is not subject to income tax and may not be used for electoral or referendum purposes.

Total spending for the year was €5.810 million.

Details of the funding, how it was spent and accompanying statements are contained in the report published today by the Standards Commission.

This report is available at www.sipo.ie

Contact: Adam Conway, Press Officer

Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2

Telephone: 01 - 6395666
E-mail: sipo@sipo.ie
website:www.sipo.ie
Twitter:  @SIPOCIreland

Political Parties

Figures released today by the Standards in Public Office Commission show that political parties disclosed donations valued at €163,640 for 2016.

There were 20 political parties registered during 2016 to contest Dáil or European elections. Each of these parties was required to furnish a Donation Statement in respect of 2016 to the Commission by 31 March 2017. Donations exceeding €1,500 in value received during 2016 were required to be disclosed. The maximum value of donations which a political party could accept from the same donor in the same year was €2,500.

Accounting units

An accounting unit is a branch or other subsidiary organisation of a political party which receives a donation in excess of €100 in any year. An accounting unit, on receipt of a monetary donation in excess of €100, must open and maintain a political donations account in a financial institution in the State. By 31 March each year, a statement from the financial institution in which the account is held together with a Certificate of Monetary Donations must be furnished to the Commission.

Details of Certificates of Monetary Donations and bank statements furnished to the Commission by political parties and their accounting units are not laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas nor put on public display.

The aggregate closing balance held by accounting units in relation to 2016 was €583,655.

The Commission's report gives details of the donations disclosed by political parties as well as information on accounting units.  The report and the political party donations statements are available at www.sipo.ie

Contact: Adam Conway, Press Officer

Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2

Telephone: 01 - 6395666
e-mail: sipo@sipo.ie
website:www.sipo.ie
Twitter:  @SIPOCIreland

Under the Electoral Act, 1997, public representatives who are members of the Houses of the Oireachtas or the European Parliament must disclose to the Standards in Public Office Commission (the Standards Commission) details of donations they receive above a certain value. The Standards Commission has today published a report on the donation disclosures in 2016, which also includes information on other donations required to be disclosed.

Public representatives’ donation statements

A total of 259 public representatives —  158 TDs, 60 Senators and 11 Members of the European Parliament, 19 former TDs and 11 former Senators were required to make donation statements by 31 January 2017.  All of these individuals are in substantive compliance, although a number were late filing returns.

Under the Act public representatives may not accept donations in any year of more than €200 in cash, and not more than €1,000 in total value from a single source.  They must disclose any donations valued at (or totalling) €600 or more received from an individual source. Forty- two public representatives disclosed donations with a total value of €72,969.00. This amount is more than double the 2015 donation total of €33,870.00, which may be attributed to the 2016 General Election.

There were no disclosed donations that exceeded the maximum limit of €1,000.00. 

Public representatives cannot accept donations from outside the island of Ireland unless given by an Irish citizen. In 2016, nine Irish donors residing elsewhere made donations.

Public representatives can only accept donations from corporate donors that are registered as such with the Commission. 

Donors’ donation statements

Donors must make donation statements in respect of any year in which they make donations exceeding €1,500.00 to two or more members of the same political party, or to a party and one or more of its members. 

Eight donation statements were received from donors in respect of 2016. The total value of donations disclosed was €37,274.00.  

The Standards Commission's report and individual Donation Statements are available at www.sipo.ie

Background

The Standards in Public Office Commission is an independent body responsible for overseeing the Ethics in Public Office Acts, the Regulation of Lobbying Act and the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended). The Standards Commission was created by the 2001 Standards in Public Office Act.

Contact: Adam Conway, Press Officer
Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2
D02 HE97
Telephone: 01 - 6395666

The Standards Commission has today published its investigation report about alleged contraventions of the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001 (the Ethics Acts) by Mr Richard Hickey, formerly a member of the Board of the former Family Support Agency. The report follows an investigation hearing held on 30 January 2017.

The Standards Commission has found that Mr Hickey contravened the ethics legislation, when as a member of the Board of the Family Support Agency, he submitted duplicate claims for travelling and subsistence expenses from the Family Support Agency and St Brigid’s Family Resource Centre for attendance at the same events.

It was alleged that Mr Hickey did a ‘specified act’ within the meaning of the Ethics Acts, relating to the double claiming of expenses, which was inconsistent with the proper performance of his functions as a member of the Family Support Agency. The Standards Commission determined, having regard to the nature and extent of double claiming of expenses, that the ‘specified act’ was committed intentionally by Mr Hickey and was, in all the circumstances, a serious matter.  

In accordance with the requirements of the Act, the Commission has sent copies of its report to Mr Hickey, to the Chairperson of Tusla, and to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

The investigation report, together with full details of the Standards Commission’s findings and determinations is available here www.sipo.ie             

Notes for Editors:

  • The following section of the Ethics Acts was found to have been contravened by Mr Hickey;

A “specified act” as referred to in section 4 of the Standards in Public Office Act 2001 is:

“an act… or an omission… that is, or the circumstances of which are, such as to be inconsistent with the proper performance by the specified person of the functions of the office or position by reference to which he or she is such a person or with the maintenance of confidence in such performance by the general public, and the matter is one of significant public importance.”

  • The Family Support Agency was dissolved and its functions transferred to Tusla (Child and Family Agency) with effect from 1 January 2014 under the Child and Family Agency Act 2013
  • In the course of the Commission’s examination it was established that Mr Hickey made duplicate expense claims exceeding €43,000 over the period from 2008 to 2013

The Standards in Public Office Commission (the Standards Commission) has today published its report on the 2016 Dáil General Election. The report provides information on election spending disclosed by candidates and political parties, including reported expenditure on property, goods or services used for election purposes during the election period, reimbursement of candidates' election expenses, the disclosure of donations by unsuccessful candidates, and third party activity during the election period. Based on the experience of administering the legislation, the Commission has also identified some recommended changes to the legislation. 
The 2016 election period began with the dissolution of the Dáil on 3 February 2016 and ended on polling day on 26 February 2016. Expenditure on property, goods or services outside of this period was not required to be accounted for.

Election expenses of €8.39 million were disclosed by candidates and political parties at the 2016 general election, a decrease of almost 10% on the €11.08 million figure reported for the 2011 election.

In 2016, 321 candidates qualified for reimbursement of election expenses and the total certified for payment to date is €2,701,454.71.

No candidate is reported to have exceeded the statutory expenditure limits. The limits for the 2016 general election were €30,150 (3 seater), €37,650 (4 seater) and €45,200 (5 seater).

If a candidate was unsuccessful at the election, he/she was required to provide to the Standards Commission (by 22 April 2016) a donation statement giving details of all donations received in relation to the election with a value greater than €600.00. Candidates who are elected are required to furnish a Donation Statement to the Standards Commission before 31 January 2017 disclosing donations valued at more than €600.00 received in relation to the Dáil General election of 2016.

Donations with a total value of €112,320.38 were disclosed by 102 unsuccessful candidates (equivalent figure in 2011 was €285,618).

The Standards Commission has referred 66 files to the Gardaí in relation to possible contraventions of the Act at the Dáil election, including failures to return donation statements, certificates of monetary donations, statutory declarations, statements from a financial institution, or election expenses statements.

The Standards Commission report on the 2016 Dáil General Election is available at www.sipo.ie

Background

The Standards in Public Office Commission is an independent body responsible for overseeing the Ethics in Public Office Acts, the Regulation of Lobbying Act and the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended). The Standards Commission was created by the 2001 Standards in Public Office Act.

The Standards in Public Office Commission (the Standards Commission) has today published its report on the 2016 Seanad General Election. The report contains information on election expenses and donations received by the unsuccessful candidates at the April 2016 Seanad General Election.
171 candidates contested the election (125 Panel candidates and 46 University candidates). The names and addresses of panel candidates were provided to the Standards Commission by the Office of the Seanad Returning Officer and by the universities concerned. Forty-three Senators are elected by the vocational panels and six Senators from the 2 university panels were elected (3 from the National University of Ireland and 3 from the University of Dublin (Trinity College).

In accordance with the provisions of Part IV of the Act, unsuccessful candidates at the Seanad general election were required, within 56 days after the relevant day on which the poll closed, to furnish to the Standards Commission a donation statement and accompanying documentation. Details of all donations with a value greater than €600.00 received by unsuccessful candidates in relation to the election were required to be disclosed. The date by which donation statements were required to be received by the Standards Commission was 20 June 2016 in the case of unsuccessful panel candidates and 21 June 2016 in the case of unsuccessful university candidates.

On foot of the 2016 Seanad election, 122 unsuccessful candidates (82 panel candidates and 40 university candidates) were required to submit a donation statement and certificate of monetary donations. Completed donation statements and certificates of monetary donations were required to be returned to the Standards Commission by 20 June 2016 in the case of unsuccessful panel candidates and by 21 June 2016 in the case of unsuccessful university candidates.

98 of the 122 unsuccessful candidates have to date complied with their obligations. In November 2016 the Standards Commission sent files to An Garda Síochana Headquarters concerning the remaining 24 candidates who had failed to return the required statutory documentation.

Successful candidates at the election are required, as members of Seanad Éireann, to furnish an annual donation statement and accompanying documentation to the Standards Commission by 31 January each year. The donation statements to be furnished to the Standards Commission in respect of 2016 by members of Seanad Éireann must include details of any donations received by them during 2016 in relation to the Seanad general election. These statements must be furnished to the Standards Commission by 31 January 2017.

The Standards Commission Report on the Seanad General Election 2016 is available at www.sipo.ie

Background

The Standards in Public Office Commission is an independent body responsible for overseeing the Ethics in Public Office Acts, the Regulation of Lobbying Act and the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended). The Standards Commission was created by the 2001 Standards in Public Office Act.

The 31st Dáil was dissolved on 3 February 2016. In accordance with section 8 of Article 18 of the Constitution, a general election for the Seanad must take place not later than ninety days after a dissolution of the Dáil. Ballot papers for panel members were issued on 11 April 2016 and the poll was closed on 25 April 2016. Ballot papers for the university constituencies were issued and posted on 21 March 2016 and the poll was closed on 26 April 2016.

The Standards in Public Office Commission (the Standards Commission) has today published the first annual report of statements of accounts provided to it by political parties registered in Ireland. 

The Electoral Act 1997, as amended by the Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012, requires all registered political parties to submit audited statements of accounts to the Standards Commission by 30 June following the end of the calendar year to which the accounts relate. This is the first time that political parties have been required to furnish audited statements of accounts to the Commission.

The report contains an overview of the Act's obligations, and provides information on the compliance status of all parties subject to the Act. 

Based on the experience gained in administering these new obligations for political parties, the Commission has identified several recommendations that, if implemented, will streamline reporting processes and lessen the administrative burden on smaller parties of adhering to the current requirements of the Act. In particular, the Commission recommends that the legislation be reviewed with a view to exempting smaller parties, especially those that receive no funding from the Exchequer under either the electoral or party activities allowance legislation, from the requirement to furnish audited statements of accounts to the Commission. The Commission agrees that the requirement to furnish statements should remain, but that it is unnecessary in these circumstances for the statements to be audited. 

In accordance with the requirements of the Act, a copy of this report will be furnished to the Chairman of Dáil Éireann and to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. 
The Standards Commission report on Political Parties' Statements of Accounts 2015 is available at www.sipo.ie

Background

The Standards in Public Office Commission is an independent body responsible for overseeing the Ethics in Public Office Acts, the Regulation of Lobbying Act and the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended). The Standards Commission was created by the 2001 Standards in Public Office Act.

The Standards Commission has today published its investigation report about alleged contraventions of the Ethical Framework for the Local Government Service (Part 15 of the Local Government Act 2001) by Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill, a former member of Donegal County Council. The report follows an investigation hearing held on 9 May 2016.

The Standards Commission has found that Senator Ó Domhnaill contravened ethics legislation when, as a councillor, he submitted claims for travelling and subsistence expenses from two separate bodies for the same dates.

The investigation concerned nine alleged contraventions of ethics legislation, which arise from three sets of circumstances. The Standards Commission found against Senator Ó Domhnaill in regard to each of the alleged contraventions.

The Standards Commission found that Senator Ó Domhnaill contravened sections 168 and 169(3) of the Local Government Act 2001, acted in disregard of provisions of the Code of Conduct for Councillors and did a 'specified act' within the meaning of the Standards in Public Office Act 2001 in regard to each set of circumstances. The Standards Commission found that each contravention was committed intentionally and was, in all the circumstances, a serious matter. The Commission also decided that it is not in a position to find that Senator Ó Domhnaill acted in good faith in relation to the contraventions.

In accordance with the requirements of the Act, the Commission has sent copies of its report to Senator Ó Domhnaill, to Mr Seamus Neely, Chief Executive, Donegal County Council and to Councillor Terence Slowey, Cathaoirleach, Donegal County Council. A copy was also sent to the Ministers for Public Expenditure and Reform and for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.

The investigation report, together with full details of the Standards Commission's findings and determinations, is available here: www.sipo.ie

Notes for editors:

The following is the section of the Local Government Act 2001 which the Standards Commission found Senator Ó Domhnaill to have contravened.

Section 168 of the Local Government Act 2001 provides:

"In carrying out their functions under this or any other enactment, it is the duty of every member and every employee of a local authority and of every member of every committee to maintain proper standards of integrity, conduct and concern for the public interest."

Section 169(3)(a) of the Local Government Act 2001 provides:

"Each member shall have regard to and be guided by the relevant code of conduct in the exercise of his or her functions."

A 'specified act' as referred to in section 4 of the Standards in Public Office Act 2001 is

"... an act or... an omission... that is, or the circumstances of which are, such as to be inconsistent with the proper performance by the specified person of the functions of the office or position by reference to which he or she is such a person or with the maintenance of confidence in such performance by the general public, and the matter is one of significant public importance..."

In the fourteenth annual report of the Standards in Public Office Commission published today, the Commission welcomes the publication of the Public Sector Standards Bill 2015 in December 2015. The proposals in the Bill represented a significant step on the road to realisation of a major recommendation first made by the Standards Commission in its annual report for 2009 for a single comprehensive Act based on best practice for dealing with conflicts of interests, which would consolidate the provisions of the Ethics Acts with other statutory and administrative ethics frameworks. The Bill, if enacted, would provide for standards of integrity and a model code of conduct for all public officials, along with consolidated provisions for disclosure of interests and a streamlined and more effective system for the investigation of possible contraventions by public officials.

The Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 was passed in March 2015. The Commission has, in accordance with the Regulation of Lobbying Act, published an annual report on the carrying out of its functions under that Act.

In 2015, political parties were required, for the first time, to keep proper books of accounts in a form set out in guidelines published by the Commission. They were also required to submit their audited accounts for the year 2015 to the Commission before the end of June 2016. These will be published in due course.

The Commission's annual report provides a summary of its activities during 2015 under ethics and electoral legislation concerning complaints and investigations, donations, election expenses and state financing of political parties.

Standards Commission Annual Report 2015

The Standards Commission is the independent body charged with oversight of the Ethics, Electoral and Lobbying legislation. The members of the Standards Commission are:
Mr Justice Daniel O'Keeffe, Chairperson;
Mr Seamus McCarthy, Comptroller and Auditor General;
Mr Peter Tyndall, Ombudsman;
Mr Peter Finnegan, Clerk of Dáil Éireann;
Ms Deirdre Lane, Clerk of Seanad Éireann; and
Mr Jim O'Keeffe, former Minister and TD

Figures released today by the Standards in Public Office Commission show that political parties disclosed donations valued at €172,794 for 2015.

The donations disclosed by each party came to the following total amounts:

Party

Total donations disclosed

Anti - Austerity Alliance 11,592
Fine  Gael 98,752
Green Party 4,880
Social Democrats 2,500
Renua Ireland 5,000
Stop the Water Tax – Socialist Party 37,710
The Labour Party 7,500
Workers and Unemployed Action 4,860
   
Total 172,794

No other party disclosed any donations in 2015.

There were 22 political parties registered during 2015 to contest Dáil or European elections. Each of these parties was required to furnish a Donation Statement in respect of 2015 to the Commission by 31 March 2016. Donations exceeding €1,500 in value received by them during 2015 were required to be disclosed. The maximum value of donations which a political party could accept from the same donor in the same year was €2,500.

Accounting units

An accounting unit is a branch or other subsidiary organisation of a political party which receives a donation in excess of €100 in any year. An accounting unit, on receipt of a monetary donation in excess of €100, must open and maintain a political donations account in a financial institution in the State. By 31 March each year, a statement from the financial institution in which the account is held together with a Certificate of Monetary Donations must be furnished to the Commission.

Details of Certificates of Monetary Donations and bank statements furnished to the Commission by political parties and their accounting units are not laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas nor put on public display. The Commission analysed the bank statements for 2015 submitted to it.

The table below gives details of the position relating to the movement of funds of accounting units of the larger parties. At the time of writing some 6 accounting units had failed to submit complete bank statements to the Commission and the table below does not show the total amount of funds held by all accounting units. The Commission is in continuing correspondence with those accounting units that have failed to furnish complete documentation.

Political Party (total no. of accounting units) No of accounting unit bank statements  received Opening bank balance (of all returns received)*  € Year end bank balance (of all returns received) * €
People Before Profit / Anti – Austerity Alliance (13) 13 18,037.49 41,122.66
Fianna Fáíl (36) 34 204,284.26 213,482.84
Fine Gael (54) 54 292,630.13 331,336.54 
Green Party (16) 16 37,807.94 38,931.94
Sinn Féin (15) 15 4,191.14 4,920.54
The Labour Party (35) 33 61,540.93 61,471.64
Others (13) 11 45,822.69 119,143.33
Total (182) 176 664,314.58 810,409.49

*Recorded from bank statements

The Commission's report gives details of the donations disclosed by political parties. Donation Statements furnished to the Commission may be inspected and copied by members of the public at its offices at 18 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2. The report and the donations statements are available on the Commission's website.

Political parties received €12.286 million in state funding for 2015, according to figures released today by the Standards Commission. The money was paid to the parties under the Electoral Act 1997, as amended, and under the Parliamentary Activities Allowance legislation. Independent Members of Dáil Éireann received €561,728 and Independent Members of Seanad Éireann received €252,540 under the Parliamentary Activities Allowance legislation. The Standards Commission does not have a role in the allocation of this funding, but it has a supervisory role in relation to the spending of the funds.

Funding under the Electoral Act 1997, as amended.

Four parties (Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Sinn Féin and The Labour Party) received funding of

€5.456 million under the electoral legislation in 2015 - see the table below for a breakdown. The funding is not subject to income tax and may not be used for electoral or referendum purposes.

Details of the funding and how it was spent are contained in the report published today by the Standards Commission. This report is available on www.sipo.ie.

Funding under the Parliamentary Activities Allowance legislation.

The total funding made available in 2015 to the Parliamentary Party Leaders of the eight qualifying parties (Anti-Austerity Alliance, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, People before Profit Alliance, Anti-Austerity Alliance/People before Profit, Sinn Féin, Stop the Water Tax – Socialist Party and The Labour Party) amounted to €6.830 million - see the table below for a breakdown. The funding made available to non-party members of the Dáil during 2015 amounted to a total of €561,728. The funding made available to non-party members of the Seanad during 2015 amounted to a total of €252,540.

Details of the funding and how it was spent are contained in the report published today by the Standards Commission. This report is available on www.sipo.ie.

The Statements of Expenditure and Auditors' Reports furnished to the Standards Commission in respect of both headings may be inspected and copied by members of the public at its offices at 18 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2. The information is also available on the Commission's website (www.sipo.ie).

Amounts received by qualified political parties for 2015 under the Electoral Act 1997, as amended

Party Fianna Fáil Fine Gael Sinn Féin The Labour Party Total
  €000 €000 €000 €000 €000
Funding received for 2015 under Electoral Act 1997, as amended 1,168 2,281 720 1,287 5,456

Amounts received by Parliamentary Leaders of qualified political parties for 2015 under Parliamentary Activities Allowance

Party

Amount received for 2015

€000

Anti-Austerity Alliance 48
Fianna Fáil 1,539
Fine Gael 2,394
People before Profit Alliance 86
Anti-Austerity Alliance/ People before Profit 64
Sinn Féin 976
Stop the Water Tax – Socialist Party 132
The Labour Party 1,591
Total 6,830

Public representatives who are members of the Houses of the Oireachtas and EU Parliament are required each year to disclose any large financial donations they receive.  In addition, some donors are required separately to disclose donations they make.  The Standards in Public Office Commission has today published a report on the 2015 donation disclosures.

Public representatives’ donation statements

A total of 237 public representatives —  166 TDs, 60 Senators and 11 Members of the European Parliament serving during 2015 — were required to make donation statements by 31 January 2016.  Almost all submitted the statements on time.  Three were late in submitting their statements, but did so before it was necessary for the Commission to refer files to An Garda Síochána for possible prosecution.

Public representatives may not accept donations in any year of more than €200 in cash, and not more than €1,000 in total value.  They must disclose any donations valued at (or totalling) €600 or more received from an individual source. Most public representatives stated that they received no donations over that amount.  16 public representatives disclosed donations with a total net value of €33,870 for 2015. 

There were no disclosed donations that exceeded the maximum limit of €1,000.  One cash donation over the limit of €200 was disclosed, but the recipient has provided proof that the excess donation was returned to the donor.

Public representatives cannot accept foreign donations.  Some donations disclosed were from donors with addresses outside Ireland, but it was confirmed to the Commission in all such cases that the donors are Irish citizens, which is allowed.

Public representatives can only accept donations from corporate donors that are registered as such with the Commission.  One public representative disclosed a donation from an unregistered corporate donor, but provided evidence that the full amount of the donation has been returned to the donor.

Donors’ donation statements

Donors must make donation statements in respect of any year in which they make donations exceeding €1,500 (in one payment or in total) to two or more members of the same political party, or to a party and one or more of its members. 

Three donation statements were received from donors in respect of 2015.  These disclose donations made totalling €10,494 in the year. 

The Standards Commission's report and individual Donation Statements are available at www.sipo.ie