Irish Freedom Party pays back €101 donation they say was “mischievous” and intended to force an investigation

The Irish Freedom Party was forced to pay back a €101 donation but they claim the contribution was made deliberately to force an investigation under electoral laws.

Party treasurer Michael Leahy said they had asked for the money to be given to charity and that they still don’t know exactly who made the “mischievous” donation.

The saga began in May 2019 when the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) made contact with the party saying they were investigating a payment the party had received.

“The Commission has been made aware that a donation of more than €100 has recently been made to the Irexit Freedom Party,” said an email, released under FOI.

In response, party director of finance Michael Leahy said they had received five donations that exceeded €100 but that none “constitute a prohibited donation”.

In a later email exchange, Mr Leahy said they had received one specific donation of €101.

He wrote: “I assume this donation was sent mischievously and I assume it was notified to you by the parties who sent it to us with a view to putting us in a situation where we would have a legal requirement to register as a third party.”