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Paschal Donohoe says he will repay businessman Michael Stone for campaign donation as he confirms breach of election rules

Pascal Donohoe has said he will pay back businessman Michael Stone for his campaign contribution three years ago.

Slamming his benefactor for repeatedly failing to recall aid given to him in the run-up to the 2020 general election, the minister told the Dail today: “Some recollections by my team of the aid Michael Stone is providing in 2020 it was done.

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“But despite my asking directly a couple of times, Mr Stone’s view was that he had not provided any assistance three years earlier.

“This was confirmed to me on more than one occasion.”

On Wednesday night last week, after his first Dell statement, Mr Donohoe said he had received a phone call from Michael Stone.

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He said a member of his team had missed “the support we were providing in 2020 through the campaign team”.

This prompted the call, and Mr Stone provided details of the assistance he had provided in his statement earlier today, he said.

“I was unaware of any of these details prior to Wednesday night.”

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He said that despite his best efforts in recent weeks to ensure a “full account” of the support given in both 2016 and 2020, a new filing would now be due for the 2020 general election.

This will reflect “new information amounting to €864 for labor and €392.20 for vehicles for support received during the election period.”

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Mr Donohoe said he now knew that “an unauthorized corporate donation of €434.20 was inadvertently received by Fine Gael Dublin Central.”

This was in the form of used vehicles whose commercial value exceeded the maximum allowable donation limit of €200, he said.

“SIPO has been notified of this breach and €234.20, an amount received in excess of the allowable limit, will be returned to the designer group.”

He added that the value of €1,256.20 for work done in the run up to polling day and the use of the van would also be amended.

He added that he aims to be “completely transparent on all the details”. The statement she made earlier was “an honest reflection of the information I have.”

When SIPO returns were submitted in both 2016 and 2020, they were considered accurate, he said.

“None of the postering done during the whole campaign was paid for by Fine Gael Dublin Central nor by me,” he said.

“It was understood that all activity was carried out by volunteers on a voluntary basis.”

Mr Donohoe said: “Let me be clear. At the time of filing the election return neither I nor my team were aware of any payment to any person to put up or remove posters at any election.

“Most of my posters were created and removed on a voluntary basis. We believed this matter was in relation to the endorsement given by Michael Stone.

“After conducting a review designed to determine the full facts, we have always taken appropriate steps to correct the record.”

Mr Stone’s statement “represents his best and most complete recollection of events,” he said.

“Since Thursday, I have been working to ensure that information regarding the 2020 General Election is completely accurate.

I have informed the Dail of the facts as I know them to be true at every turn.

“I once again apologize for the inconvenience caused to my party and the distraction from the important work of the government.

“I have always tried to hold myself and those around me to the highest standards,” Mr. Donohoe said.

“Finally, I would like to say that I deeply regret the loss of Michael Stone from the boards of both the Land Development Agency and the North East Inner City Taskforce.

“Mr Stone has given freely of his time in an effort to make a difference in the lives of people facing significant challenges.

“His experience will be a great loss to both of them.”

Sinn Féin’s spokesman on finance, Piers Doherty, accused Mr Donohoe of reverse-engineering the facts on his campaign donations.

Mr Donohoe said what was being discussed was an “inadvertent donation” being corrected with SIPO, but it actually referred to postings, which he assumed were on a voluntary basis being on.

Mr Doherty said the minister had earlier claimed in November that he had reviewed his 2016 expenses and found everything in order. He said the issue of the vans supplied was taken up till 2017.

Mr Donohoe said he assumed all the posters had been put up on a voluntary basis, but in 2017 “I should have amended my election expenses at that time to take into account the use of a commercial van which at the time cost was €140.

A Sinn Féin spokesman asked how many posters had been put up for Mr Donohoe as the Fine Gael candidate in 2016 and 2020.

The minister said their “critical mistake” was to assume that all this was done on a voluntary basis. He said that it is not known how many posters have been put up.

He told Mr Doherty: “I don’t know whether you are interested in my answers or in my head.” Mr Doherty said the cover-up had been going on for weeks, and was interrupted by Seán Comhairle who said he should not have shouted down the minister in his reply.

The Labor Party’s Ged Nash said the price criterion was what it would cost profitably to buy on the open market. “Standards matter, accountability matters. Ethics matter, and full disclosure matters. I believe honesty is what matters to you.”

Mr Nash said he took no pleasure in saying that Mr Donohoe had broken election rules on two occasions, and that “third chances don’t often come in politics,” which was why he should give a clear answer.

There was a central fantasy that the donation was to heal Gail in Dublin Central, not Mr. Donohoe personally, “the face on the poster.”

He said that he would have been really angry if he had been another candidate for Fine Gael in Dublin Central, as he had not benefited.



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