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Businessman who paid for Pascal Donohoe posters resigns from two boards

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The businessman who paid for Minister Paschal Donohoe’s 2016 election posters has resigned from two boards following revelations he was paid to put up posters in 2020.

Michael Stone is stepping down as voluntary chair of the North East Inner City Program Implementation Board and board member of the Land Development Agency.

In his first statement since the issue arose, Mr Stone said he did not know that the payment for 2016 general election posters needed to be included in Mr Donohoe’s election expenses.

“I understand and fully acknowledge that his team relied on the support they voluntarily provided,” he said.

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I deeply regret any embarrassment I may have caused Paschal for my misremembering regarding 2020 and what I thought was minor help to a hardworking, honest politician

Mr Stone also said he “erroneously believed” that he had not been paid to help put up posters as part of the recent general election.

“In December 2022, Paschal asked me if I had provided such assistance in the 2020 election. I mistakenly believed that I had not done it and told him so. On Wednesday 18 January 2023, I again confirmed my erroneous recollection to him.

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Mr Donohoe made a brief statement to the Dail on 18 January on the issue of election spending, apologizing and saying he wanted to be “completely transparent”.

He said he did not know before a full review in December, following a recent complaint to ethics watchdog Sipo, that workers were paid in “personal payments” in 2016 by Mr Stone.

He also admitted that he should have revised his election expenses in 2017, when he learned that a corporate van had been used to hang posters, which he estimated at 140 euros.

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Mr Stone said on Tuesday: “When I heard later that day that the 2020 election had been raised in the Dail, I double-checked the matter and found that my recollection was incorrect and that, in fact, similar aid posters had been put up. was given in the 2020 election.

“I immediately contacted Paschal and told him so and apologized for my mistake.”

He said six people were paid on five dates before and after polling day at a cost of 972 euros, while the cost of using a commercial van was 434.20 euros.

“The help provided in 2020 was arranged through a member of the Fine Gael team at Dublin Central and I did not discuss this with Paschal at the time,” Mr Stone said in a statement.

“I deeply regret any embarrassment I have caused Paschal for my misremembering in relation to 2020 and what I thought was minor help to a hardworking, honest politician.

“In recent times my role as chairperson of the North East Inner City Program Implementation Board and board member of the Land Development Agency has been raised in the commentary.

“The work of both the bodies is very important and I do not want this unrelated controversy to distract from their work in any way.

“For this reason, it is with great regret that I have decided to step down from both bodies on which I have served pro bono and without charge or expense for many years.

“I want to thank my colleagues in both bodies for their friendship and for the important public service they continue to perform.”

Mr Stone was appointed by the government to the North East Inner City Program Implementation Board in June 2017 and to the board of the state-sponsored Land Development Agency in 2019.

Mr Donohoe also revealed last week that he sold Mr Stone’s five SuperDraw tickets in 2020 worth €334 and 22 tickets in 2021 worth €1,382 as part of a fundraiser for Fine Gael.

Mr Donohoe is due to make a statement to the TD on Tuesday afternoon, after saying last Thursday he would make another statement to Dell at the “earliest opportunity” so the information he provides is “as accurate as possible”.

(tags to translate) fine gale

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