A WEST Cork councillor who was convicted and fined €500 at Bandon District Court last week for failing to file a written statement of his expenses after he unsuccessfully contested last year’s general election said he won’t be appealing the conviction.
Cllr Alan Coleman told The Southern Star that he has no plans to appeal the conviction in a prosecution which was sought by the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO).
He said that he was late in filing a statement of what he spent in the General Election 2020 and said the returns he did file were within the spending limits and filed before the prosecution ensued.
‘The fine seemed a bit high for a technical offence but I won’t be appealing it and I will be concentrating on my constituency workload,’ said Cllr Coleman.
At the same court sitting, Kevin Corcoran, who stood unsuccessfully for Solidarity People Before Profit during the same election, was convicted and fined €400 for a similar offence.
However, the secondary school maths teacher is appealing his conviction, with his solicitor Ray Hennessy lodging an appeal this week.
State solicitor Malachy Boohig told the court last week that both unsuccessful election candidates were obliged to file a written statement of their expenses within 56 days of the election. However, despite numerous reminders by email the returns were not made in accordance with the legislation.
Solicitor Ray Hennessy, who represented both defendants, described it as ‘bureaucracy gone mad’ and queried the purpose of this prosecution on his two clients.
Giving evidence, Cllr Coleman of 3 The Spires, Innishannon who is a dairy farmer, said he was very busy calving about 200 cows after the election and that once the pandemic hit he couldn’t get access to his bank statements online or get into the bank.
Judge McNulty said Cllr Coleman is an experienced man in public life and knows his obligations and he convicted and fined him €500.
Meanwhile, Mr Corcoran of Derrigra West, Ballineen said that following the election, Covid hit and he had to go online teaching and help other colleagues with the online technology. He said he hadn’t been checking his personal emails, due to the volume of works emails he was receiving, so he missed emails from the Commission. He said he totally forgot about his election requirements.
Judge McNulty convicted and fined him €400 and gave him 30 days to pay the fine