Campaign costs: President Mary McAleese

A CAMPAIGN to get President Mary McAleese re-elected – despite no vote ever actually having to take place – ended up costing more than €45,000.

The cash was paid out for market research, office expenses, advertising and other incidental expenses run up during a campaign that never was.

The final bill of €45,470 was comfortably paid off using dozens of donations that McAleese received as her first term came to an end.

Amongst the people who gave her money for her campaign were the former Bank of Ireland governor Laurence Crowley and the bank's former chief executive Brian Goggin, who each donated €2,500.

Other €2,500 donations were from the developer Fleming Construction, which is currently being wound up, the well-known solicitors firm Arthur Cox, and CRH Group Services.

McAleese also received another donation of €2,500 from O'Flynn Construction, which was one of the "top 10" developers that went into Nama.

Documents filed with the Standards in Public Office Commission show that the president was in the process of putting together her election machinery for another run for Áras an Uachtaráin.

Marketing research to determine whether McAleese was likely to get re-elected cost €7,932, according to the records.

Listed under spending for advertising, the president spent €3,025 on what was termed "creative and design fees".

Expenditure on media monitoring services of €68.37 and newspapers costing €52.61 were also incurred during the presidential campaign.

A campaign computer network was set up costing €10,285, with a telephone network costing €4,076 and a bill for rental of office space costing €2,600.

Office insurance costing €153, mobile phone rental and calls of €566, installation of a telephone line costing €2,159 and a TV licence costing €352 were also paid for. A TV, video and radio to keep an eye on the campaign ahead were purchased at a cost of €390 with stationery costing €24 and a "door bell" setting the team back €35.

Other small bills totalling around €200 were also incurred for postage, bank charges, couriers, parking and taxi fares. Wages, PAYE and PRSI made up the rest of the bill, costing €13,749.

No costs were listed for election posters or other election materials, which McAleese had no need of in the abortive campaign.

The presidential election had been set for 22 October 2004 but as a deadline for nominations arrived at the beginning of the month, only one name had been put forward.

McAleese's candidature was supported by both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael with Labour narrowly voting against running an alternative candidate.

The president's return to the Standards in Public Office Commission listed three people authorised to incur election expenses on behalf of the campaign, including Martin McAleese.

McAleese listed a total of 68 separate donations in her return, showing that she ended up retaining little more than a third of all the money raised.

A note from her election agent Sean Barrett said: "The amount of donations received exceeded the expenses incurred. The amounts shown ... represent the monies returned to the donors after the payment of expenses.

"President McAleese will not be claiming reimbursement of any election expenses."