Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Questions (101, 109)

Clare Daly

Question:

101. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he is satisfied that those provisions in the Electoral Acts in regard to donations to third parties for political purposes are fit for purpose. [4487/18]

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Clare Daly

Question:

109. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to amend the Electoral Acts to address the difficulties identified by the Standards in Public Office Commission in regard to supervising the provisions of the Acts regarding third parties. [4486/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 101 and 109 together.

The Electoral Act 1997 (as amended) provides the statutory framework for dealing with political donations and sets out the regulatory regime covering a wide range of issues such as the funding of political parties; the reimbursement of election expenses; the establishment of election expenditure limits; the disclosure of election expenditure; the setting of limits on permissible donations; the prohibition of certain donations; the disclosure of donations and the registration of third parties who accept donations given for political purposes which exceed €100.  The Act also provides for the independent supervision of this regime by the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO).

In this regard, I understand that SIPO has published guidelines to inform third parties of their obligations under the Act which can be accessed on their website

http://www.sipo.ie/en/guidelines/explanatory-notes/explanatory-notes-for-third-parties/explanatory-note-for-third-parties.pdf.

Ultimately, the onus is on each third party to adhere to their obligations under the Act.

The concerns raised by a number of the civil society groups in relation to the requirements on third parties are being further examined and considered within my Department having regard to experience, including previous reports from SIPO, with the implementation of Part IV of the Electoral Act 1997.

I have no proposals to amend the Electoral Acts in relation to foreign donations at this point in time. However, electoral law, including the provisions of the Electoral Act 1997, is subject to ongoing review in order to ensure that a robust and modern legal framework is maintained as a cornerstone in support of the operation of our democratic system.