On Saturday, Sinn Féin senator David Cullinane was asked where any money above the €530 per week allowance he received from the party went. He replied “into the local constituency employing people who work for the party.”
When I asked the senator David Cullinane where the legislation governing political donations made a distinction between money donated to Sinn Féin headquarters, which has to be declared to SIPO, the Standards in Public Office Commission, and money donated to the party at a constituency level, his answer was “you can spend your money on your constituency office. You are limited in what you can donate directly to a party. Difference.”
Sinn Fein regularly point to their “average wage” commitment. Cullinane’s arrangement is not unique, it is policy followed by all its TDs and senators.
The Electoral Act, 1997, section 22, includes in the definition of a party “a body or association which forms part of such political party, is established by or under the constitution of the political party, or is effectively controlled by the political party or the officers thereof, or has functions conferred on it by or under the constitution of the party. ”
“Donation” means any contribution given for political purposes by any person, whether or not a member of a political party, to a political party, a member of either House of the Oireachtas, a representative in the European Parliament or a candidate at a Dáil, Seanad or European election… [Section 22(2)(a)]
In other words, no difference.