Now Simon, Mary Lou, is Watching, well, Where from here?

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Unclear if Simon Coveney will donate money received from Brendan Mullin an ex-rugby star accused of stealing €500,000 from Bank of Ireland

20th November 2022

Simon Coveney is refusing to say if he will give a €2,000 donation he received from a former Irish rugby international accused of stealing over €500,000 from Bank of Ireland to charity.

The Foreign Affairs Minister’s filings with the Standards in Public Office Commission show he received a €2,000 cheque from Brendan Mullin and his wife Sharon in 2010. Mr Mullin is due to stand trial on nine charges of theft, five charges of false accounting and one charge of deception, all relating to Bank of Ireland, Mespil Road, Dublin, on dates between July 2011 and March 2013.

“That matter is pending trial before the courts, I won’t be commenting on it,” Mr Coveney’s spokesperson said last week. The €2,000 donation was among donations totalling €19,650 from 10 different donors when Mr Coveney was a Fine Gael TD in opposition.

Mr Mullin has been remanded on continuing bail until the trial, which is due to start in May next year at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court and is expected to last approximately three weeks.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Mr Mullin earned 55 caps for Ireland between 1984 and 1995 and made appearances at three Rugby World Cups.

Fine Gael has repeatedly called 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 campaign donation, Dowdall bought tickets for a dinner and a local event with the Sunday Independent reporting last week that he purchased a table at a private fundraiser for Ms McDonald and her Dublin Central constituency organisation in the Gresham Hotel in July 2013.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told reporters at Government Buildings last week that Fine Gael “would absolutely apply the same standards to ourselves as we would apply to others”.

“So in the case of the Jonathan Dowdall donation we called for that money to be given back,” he said.

“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.”

He said he was not aware of anybody in his party who had taken a donation from a convicted criminal, but admitted “it could well be the case”.​

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