Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has acknowledged that her party made “mistakes” and was guilty of “sloppiness” in its filings about election spending and party finances to the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo).
Ms McDonald said inaccuracies in the statutory declarations to Sipo were “not acceptable” to her and she had made her feelings known within Sinn Féin.
The Irish Times recently reported on apparent contradictions and anomalies in Sinn Féin’s declarations to the ethics watchdog, while the Irish Independent reported on the party’s claims to have spent only tiny amounts of money on some election campaigns.
The reports were initially dismissed by Sinn Féin, but The Irish Times understands that some aspects of the party’s finances are still under examination by Sipo.
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Speaking about the matter in New York earlier this week, Ms McDonald said: “Well, in the case of our returns, yes, there was a sloppiness there, there was inaccuracies... to me that’s not acceptable, by the way, have said that within the party.”
She said this was different from the case of Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe who was fiercely criticised by Sinn Féin over his electoral declarations, which he subsequently corrected.
“It was a case of a corporate donation that was not disclosed. So they are two different things,” Ms McDonald said.
“We all have to be compliant. Where mistakes are made, they have to be corrected for. But Sinn Féin – all of our money is accounted for.
“Any dealings that we have had with Sipo over the years, in each and every instance the sloppiness or the mistakes have been remedied and Sipo has been fully happy with our actions.”
Sipo, as a policy, does not comment on its dealings with political parties, and does not confirm or deny such assertions.
Asked if she was taking part in any fundraising events in the US, Ms McDonald said it was not a fundraising trip. She said that other parties tried to fundraise in the US and failed.
Electoral law forbids foreign funding of Irish political parties, but Sinn Féin says that money raised for the party overseas is not used for any purposes in Ireland. The party has an extensive fundraising operation in the US.