From left: Mike Murphy and Pat Doherty (of Harcourt developments) with Bertie Ahern and a model of the Park West complex in West Dublin, in 1999.
Yesterday it was reported in the Irish Times how Fine Gael and Labour did not declare a single political donation from last year, based on new figures from the Standards in Public Office Commission.
Parties do not have need to reveal political handouts unless the sum surpasses a threshold of €5,078.95.
Last year the combined total spent by the Coalition on the general election amounted to around €2million.
This means almost 400 payments from unknown donors could have been made to the Government parties last year.
Or there were a lot of successful table quizzes.
In today’s Irish Examiner, Investigations Editor Conor Ryan used separate accounts, from the Companies Registration Office, to reveal more about some of those undisclosed donations.
Interestingly he tells how indebted Pat Doherty-owned Harcourt Developments, which has cut a debt deal with Nama, switched their donation allegiance from Fianna Fail to Fine Gael, just before the 2011 General Election.
Harcourt made €220,000 in political donations during the boom, including €129,000 to Fianna Fáil, and €49,900 to the PDs.
The firm had been prolific funders of Fianna Fáil during its time in power. The company had donated lesser sums to Fine Gael while in opposition. Its most recent returns recorded a single political donation of 1,500 United Arab Emirates dirham (€330) to Fine Gael.
Maybe it was this decision or the sheer weirdness of a company presumably dealing with a large amount of public debt (Nama files are secret) still donating to political parties that made Mike Murphy quit the board of Harcourt (after 10 years as director) a month after the election.
We literally may never know.
Political Donations Under The Radar (Conor Ryan, Irish Examiner)
(Aidan Crawley/Photocall Ireland)