The Electoral Act 1997 was enacted on 15 May 1997 and has been amended several times.

Purpose of the Act

The Act regulates political donations, spending during an election and the reimbursement of election expenses. The registers of third parties and corporate donors are managed under the Act.

While there is different legislation for other aspects of electoral governance, such as election management, the Commission has no oversight role for this legislation.

Disclosures

Under the Act, political parties, members of both Houses of the Oireachtas and members of the European Parliament must file annual reports of political donations with the Commission. Candidates at Dáil, Seanad, European Parliament and presidential elections must also disclose donations and election expenses.

If qualified political parties receive State funding as provided for under the Act, they must inform the Commission each year about how the funds were spent.

Spending limits

Spending limits for elections are set under the Electoral Act. Presidential candidates are given the same limit, while the limits for Dáil or European election candidates vary according to the size of the constituency. A candidate may be refunded for some election expenses, up to a set maximum amount.

Political donations

There are also limits on the value of donations to political parties, third parties, candidates and elected representatives. Donations from people or organisations outside Ireland, other than citizens or organisations that keep an office on the island of Ireland, are not allowed under the Act.

Anyone accepting donations must have a separate bank account for political donations.

Registration of third parties and corporate donors

If you or your organisation accepts donations of more than €100 (other than a candidate or political party), you must register with the Commission as a third party, and adhere to disclosure obligations and donation limits.

If you are a corporate donor, you cannot donate more than €200 unless you register with the Standards Commission as a corporate donor.

Further information See www.irishstatutebook.ie for the complete text of the Electoral Act 1997, the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2001, and its regulations.

Irish Statute Book