Postergate: What Do You Get For Donating To Fine Gael?

Why did Pascal O Donoghue refuse to answer questions in the Dail?

He has admitted that a businessman, Michael Stone, chief executive of the Designer Group, paid for posters to be erected during the 2016 election. He claimed that this cost just over €1,000 when a constituency rival spent €5,000 getting theirs up.

Few people, bar his followers in Fine Gael, believe his storyline.

But the bigger question is: did Michael Stone’s donation influence anybody to give him state contracts?

Classically, this is how the Irish political elite work. Their rich friends batten off state contracts and special favours and they in return help politicians get elected.

The reason why the Dunne family gave Charlie Haughey huge sums of money was to get his help in settling their tax bills.

Denis O’Brien was a donor to Fine Gael and then, by pure coincidence, he seems to have benefitted from certain business favours.

So, it is a legitimate question to ask: what contracts did Michael Stone get from the Irish stat?.

We already know that he was appointed to the board of the Land Development Agency by Eoghan Murphy, a former Fine Gael Minister for Housing.

Members of the Land Development Agenc  board are appointed through the Public Appointment Services system, but the Housing Minister can appoint four. One of those chosen by Murphy was Michael Stone.

This agency will be involved in the sale of public land. The issue of payment or expenses for serving on the board is irrelevant. Being on that board means being in a place of influence on property deals.

To its credit, the Irish Mirror is on the right track. They detail how companies whose director paid people to hang posters for Paschal Donohoe received Government payments worth €8.7million.

Michael Stone, it appears, is a director of nine other companies besides Designer Group and some of these benefited from state contracts.

It is not just Donoghue who should answer questions. The link between political donations and government contracts needs to be brought into the open.

We await with interest.