FINE Gael councillor John Bailey has refused to answer questions surrounding potentially illegitimate political donations from a construction company.
Just one week after he was forced to return campaign donations from another developer, the Sunday Tribune has found that further contributions appear to be in contravention of the same rules set out by the Standards in Public Office (Sipo) commission.
The Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown councillor – who is head of his party in the local authority – handed back a €2,500 cheque when it was found to be in contravention of regulations. He had received €5,000 from Devondale Ltd and Brian Durkan Company Ltd, subsidiaries of Devondale Holdings Ltd, a Dun Laoghaire based construction outfit.
Under the rules, single donations are capped at €2,539.48 – companies and their subsidiaries are considered to be a single legal entity for political donations.
Now, the Sunday Tribune has learned that Bailey – in his failed run at the 2007 general election – received the same structure of funding from another developer. He received €2,500 from Cosgrave Developments Ltd and the same amount from Cos Let Ltd, its subsidiary, totalling €5,000, nearly twice the permitted level. Both companies share directors and operate from the same Grand Canal Street premises, thereby counting as a single donor.
Despite being contacted on several occasions, neither Cosgrave Developments nor Bailey would respond to queries. However, in response to the earlier contributions from Devondale, Bailey said he would return the money immediately and subsequently lived up to his word, hand delivering a cheque for €2,500 to Devondale Ltd.
"I've always declared everything and I am not ashamed of anything I've done," he said. "Nobody has been stronger against developers."
An examination of contributions to his 2007 election bid reveals that much of the money came from companies with a direct role in the development of the Dun Laoghaire Golf Course site, a controversial project that received planning last week and one Bailey claims to have been opposed to. Cosgrave Developments and the selling agent Hooke & McDonald Ltd, both of whom are attached to the contentious scheme, contributed to Bailey's election war chest.
Bailey also defended himself when it emerged that an objection he claimed to have filed with An Bord Pleanála never showed up. He later claimed it was lost in the post.