Inkgate: Aengus O’Snodaigh Responds (The Transcript)


Aengus O’Snodaigh (image via Allan Cavanagh) went on RTE Radio 1’s Morning Ireland earlier to defend his impressive ink cartridge expenses.

Rachael English: “Enough ink to send 3.25 million letters, that’s what today’s Daily Mail reckons the Sinn Féin TD Aengus O Snodaigh received from Leinster house over two years. The paper’s political editor Senan Moloney has uncovered figures which show that in 2007 he received 215 print cartridges worth almost €26,000. The following year he got 219 cartridges. They were valued at €24,700.  In 2009 there was a clampdown on the number of print toner kits that a TD could take. The Sinn Féin TD still managed to use more than anybody else. Aengus O’Snodaigh is on the line. Good morning.”

O’Snodaigh: “Good morning.”

English: “What were you doing with all that ink?”

O’Snodaigh: “Quite a lot of printing, obviously. It was used for constituency purposes, leaflets locally to inform people of changes happening in their area and also to make them aware, so I had sent Senan [Irish Daily Mail] some of the samples yesterday when he raised this with me but he hasn’t published them, maybe in the future. For instance you’d have leaflets advertising protests against the proposed closure of the Crumlin Children’s Hospital, leaflets making people aware of different activities in the area, but also making them aware of their rights and entitlements or, for instance planning changes where substantial changes were planned in 2007/2008 in the area and you have to print pictures so that people can capture the size and the scale if there’s developments happening in Bluebell.”

English: “But you could have printed hundreds of thousands of leaflets with all that ink. Did you?”

O’Snodaigh: “Oh no we did. We would have been known as the most prolific leafleters in the country within the party and the party has a history of making sure that constituents around the country are informed. We would have had tens of thousands being delivered weekly at different stages in those years, and we still have to this day. The changes that we would photocopy now or get them printed in Leinster House in the printing press.”

English: “OK, but just to put this into context for people, in 2007 you used 215 cartridges, the next highest user, Fianna Fáil’s Michael Moynihan took 48 so do you accept that you were overdoing it?”

O’Snodaigh: “Oh, hindsight is a great thing. It looks excessive but the amount of material I was printing was at that scale and it was being delivered door to door by our members. I think that the constituents were grateful of the information that they were given. Nobody ever raised with me, in Leinster House, the cost of it or that it was excessive or anything else.”

English: “And yet in 2009 there was a clampdown and your activities seem to have prompted that clampdown.”

O’Snodaigh: Well, not my activities. Nobody ever contacted me from Leinster House, the staff or anybody else. There was a review of all the expenditure of the House in 2009/2010 and since to try and make savings and I have no problem, I’ve played my part in those savings as I have. We changed…

English: Do you accept that what you did was wrong? That you took too many printer cartridges? I mean €50,000 over the space of two years.

O’Snodaigh: “Well, no, all I did was supply information to the constituents. At the time we were a small party in Leinster House so the turnaround in the printing presses in Leinster House meant that material that had to get out to constituents on a quicker basis wasn’t happening that way, and we were given an industrial photocopier, with full colour, to change from a small printer that we had and that was given to everybody.

English: “So you don’t think that you did anything wrong here?”

O’Snodaigh: “No I don’t think so and I have complied as much as I can with the new guidelines and anything above that, we have to pay for anyway.”

English: “At the very least though, doesn’t this show a disregard for the country’s citizens who are paying for all of this?”

O’Snodaigh: “Well, I don’t believe so. I could have found an alternative way and we have since. We could have concentrated more on black and white photocopied material which we have done since. We would suggest that that the printers that we have from Leinster House that go with our computers, that they aren’t suitable for the type of work that they had intended for them. They had given us industrial printers specifically to produce large quantities.”

English: “You have made that point. I suppose there will be a number of suspicions here that people will have. First of all, were you giving these printing cartridges to the party?”

O’Snodaigh: “No I didn’t. All of the printing cartridges that I got I used in my constituency office and I used them for constituency material, and anyone who lives in the constituency would be aware of getting leaflets on a continuous basis from before those dates and after that date.”

English: “If you didn’t give them to the party, were you printing election literature?”

O’Snodaigh: “No, that is totally barred from use. You cannot use it for election literature at all, and in fact the stationary stores in Leinster House closes for the duration of any election. You have to produce your own material. And election material you’d produce in large quantities. You’d go to a printer, as in you’d be getting 100,000 of the same piece of literature on a canvas card or the like.”

English: “Ok, so you didn’t do that. You do also owe the Houses of the Oireachtas €3,700 for printer cartridges. This is a sum that was racked up since those restrictions came in in 2009. Will you be paying up?”

O’Snodaigh: “Oh yeah, there’s no problem at all. I just haven’t got around to it. Initially there was confusion over the bill and I’ve sorted that out. There’s no problem at all.”

English: “OK, because I gather from the piece in the paper this morning they have had to write to you three times over the money.”

O’Snodaigh: “There’s a statement every year, I have contacted them in past and said there is no problem at all. It’s due, it will be paid, there is no problem at all.”

English: “Do you accept that all of this seems very much at odds with the image which Sinn Féin likes to put forward? The party who doesn’t take the full salary, who doesn’t cost the taxpayer as much as other TDs. This seems like gravy train stuff.”

O’Snodaigh: “This isn’t for my personal use, this is to provide a service to the constituents. Sinn Féin is well known for its hard work in keeping constituents informed right across the country and that’s what was being done right across the country. I make no apologies for keeping the constituents informed at the highest level possible. Since 2007/2008 the use of Facebook, the Twitter has allowed us to keep a lot of people informed a lot quicker than we would have before but we are still producing quite a vast quantity of leaflets.”
English: “But not the hundreds of thousands that seem to have been printed in the past?”

O’Snodaigh: “We are, I know that last week, last month there were 15,000 leaflets photocopied to do with the changeover from Dublin City Council to Greyhound.”

English: “OK, but there were fewer printer cartridges involved. Aengus O Snodaigh thank you for taking our call this morning.”

Listen here

48 thoughts on “Inkgate: Aengus O’Snodaigh Responds (The Transcript)

    1. paul

      In that constituency too John, I don’t get a whole pile from them, regular enough newsletters true, the odd other thing re protests etc but it’s not daily by any means. Obviously they differ from the likes of fiannagaellabour that just send you a ‘sorry we missed you’ flyer once every 5 years. Shinners print newsletters about your area, what’s happened and what’s up next etc etc pretty high standard too I’ll admit but it’s not daily.

      Do they use printer services now, is that what he’s saying? If they were using industrial printer I could see they’d go through a toner/cartridge a day but it sounds ridiculous that it should all be at tax-payers’ expense.

      1. Tarantula

        I live in his constituency too John, since 2005, and have never got a thing from either O’Snodaigh or SF apart from electioneering leaflets. What a barefaced liar. What % of constituents would choose never to receive such material I wonder, given the choice?

      2. Ed

        God, me too actually. Been there since 2001 (off Lwr Kimmage Rd, I’d say maybe one or two leaflets, but they were professional ones, done in a design shop, not printed on an ink jet). I do know SF tends to focus it’s attentions on some areas of DSC like Ballyfermot, Cherry Orchard rather than our end.

  1. NeilH

    If Seanie Fitz took a pen home from the bank the Sinners would be all over the place with their phoney outrage!

    €50k worth of ink used to print propaganda, simple as that.

  2. Dave, Dublin

    To summarise:

    Rachael English: Did you do something very bad?

    Aengus O’Snodaigh: No

    RE: Are you sure?

    AO’S: Yes, I’m sure.

    RE: Fair enough, thanks.

    Why even bother ringing him?

    1. Graham

      What should she have done? She asked him all the questions we were thinking, he denied it, what was she supposed to do? Accuse him of lying? She would need proof that he’s lying. Maybe someone should find out how many people in south Dublin were getting leaflets and how often and see does his story add up.

  3. Sido

    Et tu Shinners – You would think if they needed some more money they could just rob a bank and murder any witnesses.
    Whatever next?

    1. orieldude

      Last time they tried to rob a bank they discovered it had no cash, so they staged a sit-in instead.

    2. woesinger

      Ah now – you have to look on this as progress.

      It used to be Sinn Fein condoned no warning car-bombings, shooting people because of their religion and robbing banks.

      Now they’re robbing stationary cupboards.

      Give them a few years and they’ll only be stealing people’s milk from the Dail fridge.

  4. Minderbinder

    Good god. Abuse of the Leinster House stationary room is fairly endemic but this is taking the piss, he must have been printing leaflets for all of Sinn Fein. That or simply taking the ink cartridges and reselling them for a profit….

    1. Print Inspector

      Not exactly accurate calculations my friend. The costs releate to colour printing which is far more expensive. Most colour printers require 4 seperate colour toners which would yield far less than 7,000 pages per toner. You’d probably per looking at about €400 per complete set of toners.

      It’s still ridiculous carry on.

  5. Jockstrap

    Yawn yawn yawn. Establishment Ireland (nice comfortable ever so polite middle class families from dairy farms and the professions) start the witch hunt of politicians who represent all the people who want a fairer society with equal access to services and education.

    Sunday mass going middle class Ireland – hypocritical in the extreme.

    1. RainyDay

      Witches didn’t exist. A witch hunt infers that nothing happened or the crime / wrong doing is fabricated. O’Snodaigh hasn’t denied using this amount of ink, in fact he has admitted it. This is not a witch hunt.

    2. cluster

      Don’t start apologising for SF with a FF-style diversionary insult. Stealing from the Dáil stationery cupboard does not equal working towards, ‘a fairer society with equal access to services and education.’

    3. NeilH

      “Polite middle class families from dairy farms”??? Are you for f**king real sham or are you just trying to rise people here? You have been spouting the greatest load of horseshi*t all day…………..actually, Gerry, is that you?

  6. barr

    Fair play to Aengus O’Snodaigh

    Small party at the time, why not use the tools provided.

    Hope the ULA are pumping out their propaganda as well.

    I’am not a supporter of either group but at least its an alternative to the generic mindless leo liberalism free market propaganda we are saturated with every day…

  7. CapitalEye

    What I like about Aengus is that he’s genuinely proud of junk-mailing houses all over his constituency, like a one-man environmental travesty. 95% of these leaflets are scooped off the floor and chucked straight in the bin with the takeaway menus.

  8. Kramer

    Unprofessional mistake by Rachael English. SF TDs cost us the exact same as every other TD. They just choose to use some of the money for party purposes.

  9. Jimi

    The real question is what did he do with the used catridges. These are worth a lot, can be refilled, and re-used. Also, the cannot be dumped with regular trash as they are a chemical. If he wasnt returning the empty – what was he doing with them ?

  10. Stewart Curry

    “Do you accept that all of this seems very much at odds with the image which Sinn Féin likes to put forward? The party who doesn’t take the full salary, who doesn’t cost the taxpayer as much as other TDs. This seems like gravy train stuff.”

    Isn’t just just not true? SF TD’s DO take a full salary, they just donate part of it to their own party and then claim they are only taking an ‘average industrial wage’. They still cost us the same amount of money.

    More on it here (and more importantly, why it’s all very dodgy)

  11. thetruthalwayscomesout!!

    My issue has and always will be that Sinn Fein class themselves as having the moral high ground in every single debate about any issue. This is great news as it shows them to be committing the same mistakes as the rest of us mere mortals!! Also as far I know other TDs in the Dail if they want to send out leaflets to their constituency they send them out to be privately printed and don’t print them for themselves. A constituency wide drop could take mean up between 10,000 and 20,000 leaflets needed to be printed!! That is not a feasible amount to be printed by a normal printer!!

  12. Hello, I'm Frilly Keane

    Well I’ve been DSC since ’92. In Cork Streeee till 2005. Crumlin Village since.

    The only Angus O’Snoddy stuff I’ve ever received, ‘cept for election stuff, was the standard SF News Letter. And no way was that printed from an ink jet.

    The man is a moron. Please don’t delete this Broadsheet. He is. And I’ll stand over it. The Shinner’s have far better options in South Central than him. And given their poll numbers a running mate is not out of the question.

    If that happens O’Snoddy will be a very quiet boy.

  13. Donal

    In the year of the Pig, two thousand and seven
    We set out from the stationery store of Dail Eireann
    We were stealing away with a cargo of computer print cartridges For the grand constituency office in Ballyfermot

    We’d an accommodating staff, who were up for a laugh
    And how the upcoming elections drove them
    The had twenty three thousand canvas cards and knee deep in spent cartridges And they called themselves the Irish party

    There was Aengus O Snodaigh from the banks of the Liffey
    There was Sorcha Nic Cormaic from South County Dublin
    There was Helen McCormack, who was scared stiff of work
    And a chap from Westmeath named Tóibín

    There was Larry O’Toole, who was drunk as a rule
    And fighting Paul Donnelly from Blanchardstown
    And your man, Gerry Adams, from the banks of the Lagan
    Was the skipper on the Sinn Fein (Land) Rover

    We had one million stacks of the best Xerox tags
    We had two million boxes of Paper Clips
    We had three million Boxes & Mailers Envelopes Labels
    We had four million handy Post-It Notes

    We had five million Ballpoints, six million Papermate Refill
    Seven million election posters
    We had eight million expensive Highlighters
    In the hold of the Sinn Fein (Land) Rover

    We had borrowed five year when the press release broke out
    And the party lost it’s way in the fog
    And the whole of the crew was reduced down to two
    ‘Twas Aengus and the captain’s old dog (Aisling)

    Then the Campaign Car struck a rock, Oh, Lord, what a shock
    Oh, how the wild winds drove her
    Turned her nine times around and the party was drowned
    it the last of the Sinn Fein (Land) Rover

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