“…why else would MLA’s fail to protest when their office expenses are taken from them?”

As the Irish Times reports

Former Minister of State, Ned O’Keeffe has been fined €3,500 and given a suspended seven month jail sentence after he pleaded guilty to five counts of submitting false invoices to claim over €3,700 in mobile phone expenses.

O’Keeffe of Ballylough, Mitchelstown, Co Cork was arrested by gardaí this morning and brought before Cork District Court where he was charged with five offences contrary to Section 26 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act.

Det Sgt Patrick Linehan of the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation told the court that O’Keeffe submitted five false invoices to support claims for mobile phone expenses between July 2002 and September 2009, while he was a TD for Cork East.

The total monies claimed for by O’Keeffe, which were supported by the false or fictitious invoices, amounted to €3,737.50 said Det Sgt Linehan, who told the court that O’Keeffe co-operated fully with the investigation when he was arrested and questioned about the offences.

No charges here, yet, following the Spotlight exposé of what appears to be expenses fraud on a much larger scale.

But the absence of charges is not the only concerning aspect of this story…  As Ed Moloney points out

Sinn Fein’s enormous wealth on that side of the Border and the impact it is likely to have on the result of the next general election is the 500 pound gorilla in the room which few people are yet prepared to talk about.

The possibility that Sinn Fein’s entree into Government Buildings in Dublin might be greased by corruption in the Belfast Assembly is one thing that should cause concern to the political parties in Dublin. But it is not the only worrying aspect.

While none of the South’s political parties are exactly snow white when it comes to corruption allegations there is a difference. Corruption in parties like Fianna Fail tends to be centred on individuals such as Charles Haughey, while the evidence from the Spotlight probes suggests that in the case of Sinn Fein it is both wholesale and centralised and that implicitly it is being directed as part of a political strategy rather than for personal enrichment. [added emphasis]

These are the tell-tale fingerpints of a party under the control of a centralised authority which is able to exert its will over individual MLA’s because they accept the sovereignty of that authority (why else would MLA’s fail to protest when their office expenses are taken from them?).

For some reason it evokes memories of that famous IRA Staff document discovered by the Irish police when Chief of Staff Seamus Twomey was arrested in 1977: “Sinn Fein should come under Army (i.e. IRA) organizers at all levels”. That document heralded the Adams-led takeover of the IRA and Sinn Fein which ultimately led to where we are now.

So here is one issue that should now be of paramount concern to political leaders in Dublin: if what has been exposed by Spotlight is how Sinn Fein behaves in a Mickey Mouse parliament and government like that in the Stormont Assembly what on earth will they get up to if they enter a government in Dublin which exercises real power?

[But it can’t be fraud! – Ed]  Not if they are ‘good’ republicans…

Read the whole thing.

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  • chrisjones2

    or what are they getting upto now?

    Remember Printergate?

    What expenses are they claiming now in the Dail? Who owns the offices they rent? Who is doing research for them?

    If they are at it in the North they are at it in the South as well….but who will dare look

  • ted hagan

    God knows what else is going on to boost party funds, especially around the border area. Great work by Spotkight by the way. Real journalism

  • Granni Trixie

    I do wonder how the -ahem- system works. Surely an individual is responsible for paying their own tax bill? For example, whilst anyone is free to take only an industrial wage so that they can donate the rest of their salary to whomever they chose, in the first instance are they not legally obliged to fill in tax forms and/or be taxed at source? Surely it could not be legal for the whole salary to be paid by the Assembly-employers to SF who then distribute some wages to MLAs and other workers such as SPADS. I cannot see how they could channel all these salaries through a charity which does not have to pay taxes.
    As regards expenses I heard Raymond McCartney on radio say something like “our people know from the start for they are told that they will not be claiming their own expenses, that SF will be claiming for them …”
    Here I believe that RMcC demonstrates a flawed understanding of what expenses are for or that MLAs should take individual responsibility when claiming for legitimately incurred expenses. Even in wee community groups people know they are personally responsible for claims for out of pocket expenses.

  • NMS

    Chris, Dáil rules are far stricter and all details are published. Many deputies also publish in full, details of expenses claimed and incurred. Ministers’ expenses are also available on Departmental websites, for example Joan Burton’s expenses http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Ministers-Expenses.aspx

  • Zeno3

    Good point. I was wondering how the SF “Industrial wage” works. Last I heard it was around £27k.
    That’s fair enough, if maybe a little on the high side. I assume the idea is that they want to identify with the workers. But a worker on 27k only takes home on average £400 a week. Do they take home 27k or £400 a week?

  • chrisjones2

    I looked buit could only see minimum on SF – did I miss the detail?

  • Thomas Girvan

    I think the rationale with Sinn Fein is that the money is being taken from the British taxpayer and, so, that is legitimate.
    They are milking the system ,till the tits squeak.
    They have still not made the transition from whatever the relationship with the IRA was, to that of a proper political party.
    Martin McGuinness claimed £42,000 over 10 years from a “research company” that is seriously dodgy, with no apparent evidence of any research.
    .It will be interesting to see what legal action is taken against them
    Of course Sinn Fein are against “political policing!”.
    (Well, they used to be!)

  • NMS

    Chris I remember Pearse Doherty used to publish a record of his expenses on his web site. I will come back to you with links. However the Irish papers are all over expenses, whining even about legitimate expenses such as staff researchers.