Businessman Michael Stone reveals he paid for Paschal Donohoe postering at 2020 election; resigns from two roles

Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Frank McGrath

Michael Stone. Photo: Damien Eagers

Philip Ryan

Businessman Michael Stone has revealed he paid for Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe's posters to be erected in the 2020 General Election campaign.

In his first comments on the controversy, Mr Stone apologised for any embarrassment caused to the minister.

He has also decided to resign from his role on the Land Development Agency and the North Inner City Taskforce

The Designer Group chief executive said he mistakenly said Donohoe he did not provide any support in 2020.

He said he has known Paschal Donohoe for a number of years and has "always held him in high regard for his work done both as a minister and as an elected representative for Dublin Central" which includes the community where he was born and brought up.

Michael Stone. Photo: Damien Eagers

"I have worked closely with him to support the regeneration of Dublin’s north inner city and I know him to be a man of honour and to be committed to public service," Mr Stone added.

Mr Stone confirmed he paid to have posters put up in 2016 but didn't know they had to be declared.

"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,” Mr Stone said.

"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," he added

Mr Stone said the help given in 2020 was arranged through a member of the Fine Gael team in Dublin Central and he had not discussed it with Mr Donohoe at that time.

"I can now confirm that in 2020 I paid personally for six people, working in three pairs, to help with postering. This assistance was provided on five dates across the campaign period, before and after polling day, at a cost of €972. I also arranged to supply some of these individuals with vans for the period they worked which I now know had a commercial value of €434.20.

"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.

"In recent days my roles as Chairperson of the North East Inner City Programme Implementation Board and board member of the Land Development Agency have been raised in commentary. The work of both bodies is very important and I do not wish this unrelated controversy to be a distraction in any way from their work. For that reason, I have very regretfully decided to step down from both bodies on which I have served pro bono and without fees or expenses for a number of years. I want to thank my colleagues in both bodies for their friendship shown to me and for the important public service they continue to perform," Mr Stone added.

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