SIPO reveals expenses far-right groups and individuals incurred during 2020 Dáil run

SIPO reveals expenses far-right groups and individuals incurred during 2020 Dáil run

Hermann Kelly’s Irish Freedom Party (IFP) spent over €30,000 trying to get its candidates elected to the Dáil in the 2020 general election. The amount represents a fraction of what the major political parties spent in the same election campaign. But it a comes to a similar amount the National Party reportedly forked out on its own candidates in the same election. At the same time the expenses of the IFP’s and National Party’s far-right rival, Gemma O’Doherty, amounted to roughly a quarter of the spending of both parties respectively. In contrast the amount Niall McConnell spent, another opponent of the above mentioned, came close to matching the levels the IFP and National Party reported.

The figures come from a report the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) published last November. Under the Electoral Act, costs which parties and individuals have amassed are to be disclosed to SIPO. 

Accounting for the election

According to the organisation, the IFP reported expenses of €31,950. During the 2020 general election the party ran 11 candidates across the country, all of whom were eliminated in the early stages of counting. Amongst the candidates was former chair of the party, Dolores Cahill. The group is headed by Kelly, a former spokesperson for Nigel Farage. He’s currently in the same role for Romanian MEP Cristian Terheș, a member of the conservative Christian Democratic National Peasants’ Party. SIPO disclosed that the IFP candidates spent €30,223 altogether with the party adding another €1,727 to that figure. Cahill’s expenses alone came to €7,630.

Justin Barrett’s National Party revealed similar expenses in the election. Having run ten candidates, it racked up costs of €29,513. Out of that number its election hopefuls made up €12,115, with the party itself accounting for another €17,275. Amongst the expenses listed are €9,617 for election posters and a further €7,672 for “Other Election Material”. The candidate with the largest expenses listed is deputy leader James Reynolds, with SIPO records showing €3,242 having been spent on his campaign. Like the IFP, none of its candidates — which included Justin Barrett’s wife Rebecca — were successful in their attempt to make it to Dáil Éireann.

Niall McConnell of Síol na hÉireann accumulated expenses of €17,281. Running as an independent candidate, the Donegal man spent €5,812 alone on “Publicity” which included leaflets as well as advertisements in local papers. Other items listed in the expense report consisted of €6.31 for batteries, €89.27 for a ladder, €310.41 for an “Audio Speaker”, and €2,500 for “Media training/Photography/Advice”. The Beacon previously revealed that McConnell’s group is actually registered as a private company.

For her part Gemma O’Doherty documented expenses with SIPO totalling €6,339. A breakdown of this figure shows the former journalist spent €1,250 on A5 leaflets and €264.35 on two banners. Overall she spent €2,566 on advertising and a further €2,258 on election posters.

Lucinda Creighton’s former party, Renua, filed expenses of €9,74 after fielding 11 candidates in the 2020 election. All of them failed to be elected.

By comparison, both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael spent over €2m each during the same election.

Funding

The funding of far-right individuals and groups is an issue that The Beacon and activists have highlighted in the past.

Last year The Beacon published details about some of the sources of O’Doherty’s funding, and that of her Anti-Corruption Ireland party (ACI), as a result of a successful Freedom of Information (FoI) request made to SIPO. In correspondence with the state agency, O’Doherty told it ACI had received donations “totalling around” €400. She also said the donations were “in single amounts of no more than EU100” and were acquired “in public places” in the 12 months leading up to April 2020. During a different exchange she revealed to SIPO the list of donations gotten via PayPal is around 30 pages long.

In January the same year a member of the National Party also let slip information regarding the party’s supporters. During a livestream at a so-called “Free Speech Rally” in Cork, the member of the extremist party said “We’ve got a lot of people in America coming on board helping us now as well”. 

Europol has previously drawn attention to the international links between the far right. In a report it published in 2020 it wrote there’s a “strong international network involving right-wing extremists from Ireland, other European countries, and the USA”.

Featured image via Picpedia.org – Nick Youngson

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