Sinn Fein failure to pay for election posters ‘deeply regrettable', says Doherty
Sinn Fein's failure to pay an election poster bill of more than 5,000 euro is “deeply regrettable”, Pearse Doherty has said.
Mr Doherty said the outstanding amount was owed by some local Sinn Fein offices, not by the party on a national level.
On Tuesday, the Irish Independent reported that a Dublin-based poster printing company had chased the bill of 5,305.78 euro for four years before writing it off as bad debt due to a failure to pay.
The invoice owned to The Printed Image company was for posters for the 2014 local elections, the Independent said.
Mr Doherty said it was important the bill was paid.
“Sinn Fein at head office have paid all of their bills, that's very clear,” he told RTE Radio One.
“What this story reflects is that some local areas in the 2014 local elections didn't pay their bills.
“That's deeply, deeply regrettable. Of course people should pay their bills.
“Head office can't pay that bill. That is a matter for the local areas.
“It is for local areas to pay it and the key thing for me is to make sure that local areas do pay that bill.
“It's long outstanding and all bills should be paid.”
He said the party's head office would direct “as far as we can” that the bill was paid by the local offices.
“I've already reached out to the finance department in Sinn Fein and have asked them to go back to local areas and to ensure that those bills are paid,” he added.
“All outstanding debts, whether they're raised at a local level or national level, should be paid, all debts incurred at head office level at a national level have been paid in terms of the 2014 election, that's not an issue.
“We stand many, many candidates in a local election and unfortunately some areas didn't pay the entirety of their bill and that shouldn't have happened.”
Last month, Sinn Fein revealed it failed to declare a series of expenses related to the hosting of press conferences during the 2016 general election campaign.
The undeclared expenses were for the hire of five indoor venues in Dublin, one of which was used twice, that totalled 2,160.70 euro.
The party said the amounts should have been included in its return to the Standards in Public Office commission (Sipo). It expressed regret for the omissions.
The sums involved for hiring the venues were 360 euro for the Westin Hotel, 397.20 euro for Wynns Hotel, 600 for hiring the Royal Irish Academy twice, 250 euro for the Gresham Hotel and 553.50 euro for the National Gallery.
The party said while four of the venues were paid at the time, it conceded that the Royal Irish Academy was not. Sinn Fein said that invoice had since been settled.
The revelations about Sinn Fein's finances follow the recent controversy involving Fine Gael Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe and undeclared expenses related to both the 2016 and 2020 election campaigns.
Mr Donohoe apologised for the failure to declare expenses related to postering work that was financed by the businessman Michael Stone and amended his returns to Sipo.
The minister said he wrongly assumed the postering had been done on a voluntary basis.