Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe has identified an issue with his 2020 general election spending amid controversy over his relationship with businessman Michael Stone.
He Fine Gael minister changed his stance on Mr Stone’s role in the 2020 general election, having previously suggested he had no involvement in the campaign.
Earlier this week, a spokesman for Mr Donohoe said only “volunteers” were involved in putting up posters for the minister when the country last held an election four years ago.
However, since questions have been raised by Sinn Féin whether the chief executive of the designer group paid any money in the run-up to the 2020 election, a spokesman for Mr Donohoe is now refusing to answer questions.
The Irish Independent understands that Mr Donohoe will seek to clarify an issue with his 2020 expenses in the coming days.
He is due to make another statement to the Dail on Tuesday. He “further reviewed the material” on Thursday afternoon, according to his spokesperson.
Fine Gael sources have said ministers may seek to clarify matters ahead of their Dáil statement on Tuesday.
When contacted, a spokesman for Mr Donohoe declined to comment late on Friday.
Mr Donohoe has been under increasing political pressure since last Sunday over his relationship with the multimillionaire engineering boss.
The Sunday Independent revealed late last week that complaints were made to the state ethics watchdog, Sipo, that Mr Stone had paid for Mr Donohoe’s posters to be put up in Dublin Central during the 2016 general election.
The payment to Mr Donohoe was not disclosed as a donation in his election expenditure return and he has since claimed €1,057 worth of work, a figure a fraction of the normal cost of putting up and removing posters.
Mr Donohoe’s close relationship with Mr Stone, whose wedding he attended last year, has also come under scrutiny because the businessman is on the board of the powerful state housing body, the Land Development Agency, and is among the names suggested by Mr Donohoe. One of them was the appointment as the chairman of the North East Inner City Taskforce, a position he has held for the past six years.
He also claimed that it was in effect a donation to the Fine Gael organization in his constituency and not himself and therefore within the donation rules.
Mr Donohoe, who has officially recorded meeting Mr Stone more than a dozen times over the past five years, has contributed more than €1,700 to Fine Gael through the purchase of tickets for the party’s annual super draw raffle. Donation from Stone has also been disclosed. ,
Mr. Stone, who bought the ticket from Mr. Donohoe, has not commented on the controversy.
Opposition parties have questioned the credibility of Mr Donohoe’s explanation for his spending on poster making in 2016 and MPs were angered when the Fine Gael TD failed to answer any questions on the matter on Tuesday.
He said later on Thursday he would make a further statement on the matter but later indicated he would not be available to the Dail until next Tuesday.