31 August 2009

Morning Glory

If you look at only one blog this morning (highly unlikely I'm sure) it should be thestory.ie.

Mark Coughlan and Gavin Sheridan through extensive FOI requests have put together a Google Docs spreadsheet containing all declared political donations to TDs since 1997. Its ridiculous that in this day and age this isn't instantly available on an Oireachtas website, but then again try to find even a simple online record of how often an individual TD has even bothered to turn up and vote on bills during their time in office and you'll see how little information is made available and easily accessible to the public.

Mark and Gavin say the site will expand with more FOI-garnered information, and have put out a general call for assistance with tracking down who is behind some of the obscured donations.

Looking through the list at the Green parliamentary party you see that over the last ten years Ciaran Cuffe received at total of €3,500 from two individual donors, Eamon Ryan received €5,000 from four individual donors, Paul Gogharty a single donation of €1,500, Trevor Sargent two individual donations of €1,200 each and John Gormley received three individual donations of €1,000. In addition both John Gormley and Dan Boyle received donations from party constituency groups, presumably via organised fundraisers, of €4,250 and €1,500 respectively. There is currently no information for Mary White, which means either that she has yet to file information or, more likely, that she has received no donation above the minimum necessary to declare.

Many of the individual donations to Green TDs appear to have come from family members, and the Greens have a very strict policy of not accepting and corporate donations to either the party or individual candidates, the only one of the major parties to do so. This really is one area that the Greens should shine in, and it always amazes me that the party doesn't do more to highlight this policy as a way of distinguishing itself from the rest of the political landscape.

Both Mark and Gavin deserve major kudos for this work, it is journalism at its best.

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At 10:10 pm, Blogger Mark Coughlan said...

Cheers for the plug Dave. FYI, this info is largely available online, it has just has never been catalogued before. It was like tying a load of random bits of info together to make something coherent.

When it is charted it in one easily navigable document it tends to be more revealing.

We will be doing some serious FOI work too though, of course.


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