Taxpayers Will Foot the Bills If Labour Cap Election Costs; DEBATE OVER DAIL CAMPAIGN FUNDS CONTINUES
Byline: WILLIE O'DEA TD Minister of State at the Department of Education & Science
LABOUR leader Ruairi Quinn, right, sparked a huge political debate last week after he revealed in the Irish Sunday Mirror that he received a pounds 50,000 cash donation from wealthy businessman Denis O'Brien, left, toward the party's election campaign.
But the TD sent the money straight back as the party is opposed to politicians receiving large corporate donations.
Ruairi Quinn wrote: "We sent the cheque back because the Labour Party believes it is time to end the link between big business and politics.''
Here, the Fianna Fail-led Government responds to Mr Quinn's article.
IRELAND'S taxpayers will have to foot the cost of running political parties if Ruairi Quinn and Labour succeed in implementing their policy to ban corporate donations and put a cap on the amount that can be spent during elections.
The need to set realistic expenditure limits for candidates at Dail elections has existed since 1997.
Labour has not faced up to this reality and its importance in ensuring the flow of new blood into politics.
It is no surprise that Labour have emerged as the flag bearers of opposition to Fianna Fail proposals to provide for an increased but more modest ceiling on the amount that candidates can spend at the next election.
They wish to portray themselves as the defenders of democracy by banning corporate donations.
What they don't tell the people of Ireland is;
They want taxpayers to make up the shortfall and pay for everything from election leaflets to the cost of keeping political parties on the road;
They want to use taxpayers to protect their own turf in a general election;
They want to stop new parties with similar policies from getting off the ground.
Ruairi Quinn and the Labour Party are suffering such a serious crisis of confidence in their ability to hold their own in an election that they have resorted to peddling Fianna Fail conspiracy theories to distance themselves from their own history of fundraising.
Ruairi Quinn was quick last week to tell Irish Sunday Mirror readers that he had turned down a pounds 50,000 political donation from businessman Denis O'Brien. It came as no surprise however that he forgot how a former and most senior official in his Party failed in his duty in 1999 to disclose a pounds 30,000 donation to the Party.
Turning a blind eye to this and other incidents, Labour now want to limit donations to parties and individuals so as to put politics beyond newcomers.
They want to create a privileged platform for those already elected and they want to monopolise politics. Labour has taken this stand even though experience has shown them that they cannot keep within the current spending limits. …