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.