DOES HE OR DOESN’T HE? – A POLITICAL CONUNDRUM!

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By Liam Deegan

Just when Sean Barrett thought that he was slipping away gently, he woke to find out that his path was being blocked once again by silly mistakes. What you see below is Sean Barrett’s declaration regarding any political donations that he may or may not have received. While all appears normal with the document, what actually stands out is Sean’s declaration that HE IS NOT A MEMBER OF ANY POLITICAL PARTY OR GROUP.

Why would Sean make that declaration, in light of several obvious factors which include the fact that the Fine Gael website says he is, the Dail Register says he is? He even gets paid as a Fine Gael TD with a further stipend to act as Ceann Comhairle which is supposed to render him harmless and be a fair referee in Dail debates (which we know it doesn’t).

What is equally as interesting is the man that signed off on Sean’s donation declaration was none other than Charlie Flanagan, Minister for Foreign Affairs who as a solicitor is quite entitled to sign declarations but surely not a declaration for his own party member as that is a clear conflict of interest and doesn’t maintain a third party distance between the declaration and the individual who signed the document.

Not only did Charlie Flanagan sign the document to say that Sean Barrett didn’t receive any donations, he also signed to say that Sean Barrett was not a member of Fine Gael which is untrue.

THEY ARE ALL AT IT

However, this is just a small part in the goings on between Fine Gael Members and their donation declarations as with Labour and their declarations. Below I give and example of other members of Fine Gael and Labour who had their declarations signed and witnessed by other members of their respective parties and in one case a personal driver signed for a minister. I have not included everyone as the list is long…

1. TD Ciaran Cannon was signed off by Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan,
2. TD Paudie Coffey signed off by Fine Gael Tony McLoughlin TD
3. TD Joe Carey was also signed off by Fine Gael Tony McLoughlin TD
4. TD Aine Collins was signed off by Fine Gael Senator Colm Burke
5. TD Sean Conlan was signed off by Fine Gael Senator Colm Burke
6. TD Ciara Conway was signed off by Labour TD Emmet Stagg
7. TD Marcella Corcoran Kennedy was signed off by FG Senator Catherine Noone
8. TD Joe Costello signed off by Labour TD Emmet Stagg
9. TD Michael Creed signed off by Fine Gael Minister Charlie Flanagan
10. TD James Bannon signed off by Fine Gael TD Sean Conlan
11. Minister Richard Bruton signed off by his personal civilian driver (Sean Divilly)
12. Minister Joan Burton signed off by Labour TD Emmet Stagg
13. TD Jerry Buttimer signed off by Fine Gael Senator Maurice Cummins

What these TD’s and their signatories signed was a legal document that has consequences should the information be untrue but what is more shocking is the lack of ethics involved. While it may not be illegal for fellow TD’s and Ministers to sign these documents it leaves serious questions that need to be answered regarding the real lack of oversight in the Dail as to who can or should sign declarations.

Signing a legal document on behalf of a fellow party member raises suspicions and smacks of cronyism once again. However convenient it may have been for TD’s to have their party colleagues sign off, it needs to be a function that is taken away from TD’s and checked fully with due diligence performed to ensure that they are actually telling the truth. We know that TD’s have a propensity to lie when it comes to hiding money from political donations amongst other things!

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