I had a good one due to go up today, a really good one, honest. Unfortunately the judicial process took a chunk out of it, then while I was parsing data I discovered there was way more to it than I’d realised. So, I’m going to continue digging and publish that at some point in the future, when on more concrete legal ground.
In the meantime, I was due to pitch this yarn to the papers but I’ve been working 16 hour days and haven’t got ’round to it. If you’re a journo reading this, feel free to rewrite it – but I want a co-byline, which I will invoice for, muthafuckers (or at least a credit for this website, pretty please.)
Way back in July the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) published their annual report for 2008. Until about two weeks ago I was in prolonged correspondence with their press spokesperson about it.
For those unaccustomed with them, SIPO are tasked with ensuring our political parties and that crew in the Leinster House comply with the accounting rules, expenses regulations, donations limits an’ all dah’. Many of their reports, while rarely covered in the press, are worth reading. Unfortunately, they’re working with awful legislation, but doing an pretty poor job on top of that, at least in some areas, as I found out.
So, I was looking through the report the day it was published when, under the subhead “Accounting Units of political parties“, I came across this paragraph:
During 2008, the Standards Commission wrote to 202 accounting units which were identified by the relevant political parties (158 accounting units had been contacted in 2007). 62 accounting units furnished the required statutory documentation by the statutory deadline of 31 March 2008. 78 accounting units failed to furnish their statutory documentation on time. 12 branches of political parties informed the Standards Commission that they have never been an accounting unit or are no longer active. 15 accounting units did not reply.
FYI – An accounting unit is a branch of a political party.
That paragraph made my eyebrow twitch and I know when my eyebrow starts twitching, I’m onto something (that was a lie). 78 is a serious number to fail to furnish required documentation on time, but it was too big to look into on my own. 12 units informing SIPO they’re not active was of little interest, but I followed this up, and the number proved correct.
But 15 units not replying, eh? That sounds juicy. Which party branches would they be? What did SIPO do when they didn’t reply? How were they punished? I put these questions to the Commission spokesperson.
“What measures did SIPO take when the accounting units did not reply?” I asked first…