Your Country, Your Call: Request for SIPO investigation

This request for investigation, with accompanying documentation, will arrive with the Standards in Public Office Commission tomorrow or the next day.

Request
An Smaoineamh Mór Limited is a company having its registered office at Arthur Cox Building, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2 (Company Record Number 478844). It was registered on the 16th December 2009 with the CRO. As of February 2010 it had received donations within 2010 with a declared value of approximately €2 million euro. [1]

An Smaoineamh Mór Limited is a ‘Third Party’, as defined by Section 49 Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2001.

As of April 2010, An Smaoineamh Mór Limited had not complied with its duty to register as a Third Party with the Standards In Public Office Commission. It is not known to the complainant, but is within the knowledge of the Commission, whether the company has since so registered.

All donations have been given for political purposes, as defined by Section 22(2)(aa) of the 1997 Electoral Act, as inserted by Section 49 of the the Electoral (Amendment) 2001 Act. The donors made their payments in the knowledge that An Smaoineamh Mór Limited intended to use the money to a promote or lobby for a change in the fiscal or legal or regulatory circumstances of Ireland via a competition and lobbying campaign under the style and title of Your Country, Your Call. [2] An Smaoineamh Mór Limited undertakes no activity outside this project.

Donations to Third Parties for political purposes may not exceed €6,348.39 in a single year from a single party. (per Section 23A of the 1997 Act as inserted by Section 49 (d) of the 2001 Act). An Smaoineamh Mór Limited has stated in the media that the total approximate €2 million donations received were made by only 13 donors[3]. In addition to these private donors, the state may have donated €300,000. [4]

The maximum aggregate amount which could be donated by 13 donors to a Third Party for political purposes in one year is €82,529.07. By their own statements, An Smaoineamh Mór Limited have therefore received approximately €1,617,457.93 in excess of the maximum sum of donations permitted under statute.

I wish to formally request the Standards in Public Office Commission investigate this apparent discrepancy between actual funding and that permitted by the Electoral Acts of a Third Party by private companies and/or individuals and the failure of An Smaoineamh Mór Limited to register as a Third Party.

Footnotes:

[1]“Dr [Laurence] Crowley said some €2 million had already been donated to the competition.”
– Your Country, Your Call What it is and how it works,
Irish Times February 18th 2010
http://bit.ly/9IwAyr

[2]“Prof Von Prondzynski: The nature of the winning proposal… won’t itself be a business but rather a process or for example a change in the fiscal or legal or regulatory backdrop which will allow others then, we hope lots of other people to put forward or to start business propositions.
Simon McGarr: Is it your intention to find a policy to lobby the government to change their proposal or policies on the back of?
Prof Von Prondzynski: Yes that would be a quite likely scenario.”

Extract from Audio Interview,
Newstalk 106, Monday 26th April 2010

[3]“McKeon said a cash fund of just under €2 million had been accumulated through donations from 13 companies and individuals. “-
McAleese Scheme down to 20 finalists,
Sunday Business Post, June 20th 2010
http://bit.ly/9wkKoT

[4]“My Department is currently examining a proposal to provide funding of up to €300,000 to the “Your Country Your Call” initiative from within existing resources. No funding has yet been paid by my Department in respect of the initiative.”
Minister Mary Coughlan,
Written Parliamentary Question 23rd March 2010
http://bit.ly/d7z5BU

10 Comments

  • Simon – your post reminds me that I submitted a very similar complaint about YCYC to SIPO a few months ago. As far as I am aware that complaint is still being looked into. But I also suspect they are looking into it slowly in the hope I’ll go away.

    I’ve had a bit of email exchange with SIPO since, but it has always been politely acknowledging me rather than updating me on any progress.

    I’d be very interested to know how your complaint fares compared to mine. At least if they are simply being put on file pending further action they will be able to keep each other company.

    While I have submitted a complaint, my issue is more to do with the lack of transparency around the funding, including the robbing of Peter to pay Paul in the Dept of Enterprise and Innovation if €300k is being provided to the pot from there – apparently for the sole purpose of lobbying the government, and perhaps even the Dept of Enterprise and Innovation itself, for legislative change. I’m all in favour of ideas generation and the development of community spirit – just not at the expense of other enterprise supports for SMEs.

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Simon McGarr, Ger O'Donovan. Ger O'Donovan said: RT @Tupp_Ed: A new Tuppenceworth blog post: : Your Country, Your Call: Request for SIPO investigation http://bit.ly/9ItHXS […]

  • Caligula says:

    Simon, have the Govt or YCYC given any confirmation yet about the 300,000? I’ve written an article about the competition and also written a review of the semi-finalists.

    http://rulehibernia.com/your-country-your-call/

  • Simon McGarr says:

    Hello there,

    I don’t know of any update on the €300,000 promised by the then Minister for Enterprise, Mary Coughlan. You could try phoning the department’s press office and putting the question of whether it has been paid over to them.

  • Mark says:

    Smells like dodgy!

    There are a few issue with the final proposals. To me it seems like the voting and community aspect of it didn’t matter a bit and was really a waste of peoples time.. Although some of the ‘popular’ ideas seem to have made it into government policy all the same…’Work for Work’ the new direction for the newly renamed Dept of Social Protection (nee Welfare).. how much is that costing??
    Looking at the semi finalists, few of them got any votes at all and all same and have a focus on IP, gambling and consultancy (PR) type roles. We are surely saved!!

    Here a link to something I posted about this back in March and it was, well, the only word for it is censored.. it was a serious proposal… that certainly could have the country making money.

    Green:

    http://www.itison.net/blog/archives/518

  • Mark says:

    To add: My “Green” proposal would have surely ticked Prof. Von Prondzynski’s boxes?

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