Businessman Michael Stone, who has found himself at the centre of the ongoing controversy around Minister Paschal Donohoe and SIPO rules, has resigned from two separate roles this week.
The move comes ahead of Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe making a statement on the controversy in the Dáil later today.
The embattled Minister has found himself in hot water in recent weeks after it was found that he had failed to declare a payment of €1,057 to workers who put up his election posters in the 2016 general election, in violation of SIPO rules – a situation which he said he “sincerely regrets.”
The Dublin Central TD said that he had believed that the services were offered on a voluntary basis. However, it was later revealed that they were instead paid for by businessman Michael Stone.
“Neither myself nor any of my campaign team intentionally misinformed SIPO or knew that a form was incorrectly submitted to them at that time,” he said last week on the matter.
Today, in his first comments on the controversy since it began, Stone revealed that he had paid for Donohoe’s posters to be erected in the 2020 General Election, and that he was unaware that the posters he paid for in 2016 had to be declared. He apologised for any embarrassment caused to Minister Donohoe.
In addition, he resigned from his roles on the Land Development Agency and the North Inner City Taskforce, adding that he held Minister Donohoe “in high regard for his work done both as a minister and as an elected representative for Dublin Central” and called the TD “a man of honour.”
“I understand and fully accept that his team believed the support I provided to be voluntary,” he said.
“In December 2022, Paschal asked me whether I had provided such help with the 2020 election. I mistakenly believed that I had not and told him so. On Wednesday, 18th January 2023, I again confirmed to him my mistaken recollection.
“When I heard later that day that the 2020 election had been raised in the Dáil, I had the matter re-checked and discovered that my recollection was wrong and that, in fact, similar assistance had been given with postering in the 2020 election. I immediately contacted Paschal and told him so and apologised for my mistake.”
Stone confirmed that in 2020 he paid personally for six people, working in three pairs to help with postering, over five dates at a cost of €972, plus €432.20 for vans.
“I deeply regret any embarrassment that I have caused Paschal for my mistaken recollection in relation to 2020 and for what I thought was modest help for a hardworking honest politician.”
The government has defended Donohoe amid the ongoing situation, with many senior cabinet figures saying that the Minister should not resign over the incident.
Micheál Martin stated that he had spoken to the minister this weekend and was satisfied with Donohoe's explanation of events.https://t.co/wSx4deTBXi
— TheJournal.ie (@thejournal_ie) January 22, 2023
SIPO is reportedly investigating Minister Donohoe over the undeclared expenses, though that investigation has not yet concluded.
Gript previously asked Minister Donohoe if hypothetically an investigation found against him, he would resign in the same way his colleague Damien English TD recently did. Donohoe’s reply to that question can be found below.
— gript (@griptmedia) January 15, 2023