Companies and organisations that make political donations may be opening themselves up to fines if they violate the rules for corporate donations for political purposes as set out in the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended) (Act).

A corporate donor that intends to make a political donation exceeding €200.00, must apply to the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) to be entered in the Register of Corporate Donors.

Who is a corporate donor?

A corporate donor is defined as including:

  • a body corporate (body corporate and any subsidiary thereof are deemed to be one person)
  • an unincorporated body of persons, or
  • a trust

that makes a donation for political purposes.

Political purposes

Political purpose means any of the following:

  1. to promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, the interests of a political party, a political group, a TD, Senator or MEP, or
  2. to present, directly or indirectly, the policies or a particular policy of a political party, a political group, a TD, Senator or MEP, or a third party, or
  3. to present, directly or indirectly, the comments of a political party, a political group, a TD, Senator or MEP or a third party with regard to the policy or policies of another political party, political group, a TD, Senator or MEP, third party or candidate at an election or referendum or otherwise, or
  4. to promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, the interests of a third party in connection with the conduct or management of any campaign conducted with a view to promoting or procuring a particular outcome in relation to a policy or policies or functions of the Government or any public authority, or
  5. to promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, the election of a candidate at a Dáil, Seanad, Presidential or European election or to solicit votes for or against a candidate or to present the policies or a particular policy of a candidate or the views of a candidate on any matter connected with the election or the comments of a candidate with regard to the policy or policies of a political party or a political group or of another candidate at the election or otherwise, or
  6. otherwise to seek to influence the outcome of the election or a referendum or a campaign.

Prohibition on receiving donations in breach of the Act

The person in receipt of corporate donations (including a TD, Senator, MEP, candidate for election to the Oireachtas, European Parliament or Presidency, election agent or political party) is prohibited from receiving donations that do not comply with the Act.

Offences

A company, trade union, building society or other society which fails to comply with the above requirements will be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of up €1,270. Where such an offence is proven to have been committed with the consent of, or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of, an officer of the offending body corporate , that person as well as the body corporate will be deemed to be guilty of that offence.