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Fine Gael's Dr James Reilly 'puts hands up' over breaches of donation rules

The Fine Gael deputy leader has said he holds up his hands after an ethics watchdog reported him to gardai over a political donation.

Dr James Reilly, a former health and children's minister and now senator, failed to retain his seat in Dublin Fingal in last year's general election.

The Standards in Public Office (Sipo) said he was among 66 candidates reported over possible breaches of ethics rules, including failures to return donation statements or certificates, statutory declarations, statements from a financial institution or expenses statements.

The ethics report said Dr Reilly received 1,000 euro in a single cash donation for the election and that he failed to prove that he had returned the excess to the donor, a farmer and personal friend of the GP.

As of December 12 last year, Sipo said it was still awaiting confirmation the money had been returned.

Dr Reilly said he did not ask the donor for a receipt at the time. He returned 800 euro of the money and claimed that if the donation had been in a cheque then he would not have run into the problem.

"Basically I put my hands up," he told RTE's Today with Sean O'Rourke.

"I forgot to give them a receipt."

Dr Reilly said he was unaware at the time about the rules on limits and documentation relating to cash donations.

He said the failure to provide some form of receipt from his neighbour was an oversight as he was busy selling his mansion in Moneygall, Co Offaly and new staff were hired in his GP practice.

"He (the donor) certainly found it amusing that he was getting money back from me," Dr Reilly said.

Unsuccessful election candidates have 56 days to file a donations' statement, which includes details of all monies received of more than 600 euro .

Fine Gael was the biggest election spender, running up a bill of 2.8 million euro, with Fianna Fail next on 1.7m euro. Labour spent just over 1m euro and Sinn Fein 650,000 euro.

Sipo said Labour spent the most on advertising, at just over 212,000 euro while Fianna Fail spent most putting up posters with a bill of just over 145,000 euro.

The Pro-Life Campaign was also listed having spent more than 40,000 euro during the election campaign.

Elsewhere, 24 candidates who failed to get elected to the Seanad in April have also been reported for failing to supply full information on donations.

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