The Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) has revealed the expenses candidates in the Dublin Bay South (DBS) by-election incurred in their campaigns last July. Although the amount far-right candidates spent is minimal compared to the general election the previous year, the figure still comes to just over €19,000. Members of the National Party and Renua, as well as former chair of the Irish Freedom Party (IFP) Dolores Cahill, ran in the constituency which saw Ivanna Bacik take the seat left vacant as a result of the resignation of Fine Gael’s Eoghan Murphy.
Cable ties and posters
According to SIPO’s report, which it published on 24 February, the National Party’s Justin Barrett spent just €2,557 in his failed election campaign. Barrett, the party’s leader, is not native to the constituency with Longford being his usual place of residence. Renua’s expenses for Jacqui Gilbourne came to €4,056 in a campaign that saw her also eliminated early on in what’s an establishment stronghold.
Also parachuting into the constituency was former IFP chair Dolores Cahill. Still employed by UCD as a professor at the time, Cahill reported even fewer expenses than her National Party rival. She submitted that her campaign cost just €1,971, detailing expenditure of €649 on stickers and €381.50 on flyers amongst other things. Both Barrett and Cahill were eliminated after the third count.
Footage of Cahill demanding to be let into the count centre without wearing a mask went viral at the time. During her exchange with the gardaí she accused them of assault and of violating her rights by not allowing her entry to the count centre.
It was Aontú’s Mairead Tóibín who had the highest expenses out of the hard-right and far-right candidates in the election. SIPO reveals that €9,287.14 was spent on her electoral offensive which ended up in elimination after the fifth count. Her list of expenses included €369 on a “Paper Ad” and €221.40 on a “Newspaper Ad”, with €3,030.24 spent on posters. Tóibín spent a further €1,847.55 on leaflets and €387.40 on cable ties.
Independent candidate Peter Dooley, who’s regularly promoted conspiracy theories about the pandemic, spent a mere €1,138 on his attempt to win the seat. Like Barrett and Cahill, he was also eliminated on the third count.
Combined, the various conspiracy theorists and far-right candidates spent a total of €19,019 in their failed attempts to get elected.
The amounts the assorted candidates spent is substantially lower compared to their mainstream rivals. For example, both Labour’s Bacik and Sinn Féin’s Lynn Boylan each spent over €36,000. It’s also far lower than the amounts spent during the 2020 general election by some of the same groups and related individuals.
Earlier this month The Beacon revealed the IFP shelled out €31,950 in its attempt to get 11 candidates elected to the Dáil. It forked out €7,630 on Cahill alone, who at the time was still a member of the party. The National Party also spent a similar amount, detailing expenses of €29,513 on ten election hopefuls.
At the time of the DBS by-election The Beacon argued that the far-right candidates were not running with any intention of winning. In fact, the extremist candidates were most likely testing the ground to see “what discontent is out there”. What’s more, it was about understanding “how their message plays in an establishment stronghold and in what should be hostile ground for them”.
Featured image via YouTube – Screenshot