Varadkar ‘not aware’ if anyone in Fine Gael has taken donations from criminals
– 6h ago
TÁNAISTE Leo Varadkar has said he is not aware if anyone in Fine Gael has taken a donation from a convicted criminal.
Mr Varadkar said if there was any such instance he would expect that a TD or Senator in his party would give it to charity as Fine Gael has repeatedly called on Sinn Féin to do in relation to donations from former councillor Jonathan Dowdall.
Speaking on Wednesday Mr Varadkar admitted there could be such an instance of a member of his party receiving a donation from a criminal.
“I haven’t been made aware anyway of anybody in the party who has accepted a donation from a convicted criminal, but it could well be the case, but I haven’t been made aware of it,” he said.
“But as I say, unlike perhaps other party leaders, I would very much apply to us the same standards as we would apply to others.”
He was speaking in the wake of his party’s repeated calls for Sinn Féin and Mary Lou McDonald to give a €1,000 donation she received from convicted criminal Jonathan Dowdall to either the Criminal Assets Bureau or a charity that helps victims of crime.
Sinn Féin is declining to say exactly how much money the former Dublin city councillor, who has been jailed for four years for his part in the 2016 Regency Hotel attack, donated to the party in addition to the €1,000 cheque he gave to Ms McDonald when she ran for the Dáil in 2011.
As well as the election campaign donation, Dowdall bought tickets for a dinner dance and a local event with the Sunday Independent reporting at the weekend that he purchased a table at a private fundraiser for Ms McDonald and her Dublin Central constituency organisation in the Gresham Hotel on O’Connell Street in July 2013.
Mr Varadkar told reporters at Government Buildings on Wednesday that Fine Gael “would absolutely apply the same standards to ourselves as we would apply to others”.
He added: “So in the case of the Jonathan Dowdall donation we called for that money to be given back, to be donated to victims of crime or perhaps even to the drug treatment centre.
“But that was after the conviction occurred. There’s a difference between being accused and convicted. But to answer your question very straight, if the circumstances are the same then the response should be the same and if a conviction occurs, well, then the same standard should apply in my view.”