The businessman who provided workers to erect posters for Paschal Donohoe during the 2016 general election campaign has continued to make contributions to Fine Gael, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe has told the Dáil.
He said Michael Stone, founder of engineering company Designer Group, had since made two donations to Fine Gael worth a combined €1,716 by buying tickets for the party’s Superdraw.
Mr Stone bought five tickets worth €334 in 2020 and 22 tickets worth €1,382 in 2021 from Mr Donohoe. His donations to the party draws were below the limits set out by law, the Minister said, and were “not required to be disclosed”.
“However, I want to be fully transparent to the House,” he added.
Politicians, officials, should be fined for failing to comply with disclosure obligations, ethics review finds
In a personal statement to the Dáil on his failure to disclose services worth €1,057 paid for by Mr Stone during the 2016 campaign in Dublin Central, Mr Donohoe apologised for the omission and said he was “very sorry that it has happened”.
Six workers who erected posters were paid €917 over three days in the lead-up to polling day. Mr Stone, a friend and supporter of the Minister, also gave the use of a van, valued at €140.
Mr Stone was a man of the very highest standards and he had given much back to the northeast inner city where he had grown up, Mr Donohoe said.
He insisted he only learned last week that there were payments involved. However, he accepted that he learned as early as 2017 about a Designer Group van being used. He said he should have amended his returns at that stage.
Despite persistent questions from the Opposition he declined to say how he found out about the van six years ago. He also refused to share details on how the values for the work were calculated, saying it was a matter for the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo), which is looking into his amended expenses declaration.
“I have put forward in my answer to Sipo how many hours the activity happened for, I have laid out the costs we have inferred to it, and the money that was made available to those individuals,” he said to angry interruptions form the Opposition, who claimed the value of the work was much higher than €1,057.