Fianna Fáil silent on €600,000 gift left in independent election candidate’s will

Fianna Fáil has refused to say if it accepted a €600,000 gift recently left to it in the will of a deceased independent election candidate.

Ex-taoiseach and former Fianna Fáil party leader Bertie Ahern has also refused to comment on a separate €50,000 gift left to him by the same man who died in 2019.

William DJ Gorman signed the 2010 will in the office of celebrity lawyer Gerald Kean who also declined to comment on a €60,000 gift left to him and his daughter.

Political parties cannot accept more than €2,500 annually from an individual donor under Irish electoral legislation. Sinn Féin was embroiled in a similar controversy in 2021 when it accepted around €4 million from the estate of deceased Englishman William Hampton. The money was diverted to the party’s Belfast operation so it could benefit from the north’s weaker electoral donation laws.

For the benefit of the party

Willam DJ Gorman ran as an independent candidate in the 2016 general election for the Dublin Central and Dublin Bay South constituencies. He received a combined 124 first-preference votes.

Gorman, who died in March 2019, owned two Dublin properties, which were sold in the past few months to pay the beneficiaries of his will. A house of his on Aughrim Street, Dublin 7 was sold last November for €600,000, according to the Property Price Register.

His property at 23 Pembroke Cottages in Donnybrook, Dublin 4 recently sold for around €375,000. Executor of Gorman's will, David Burke, secured a High Court order in November 2021 requiring “persons unknown” to vacate the Donnybrook property so that it could be sold.

Records obtained from the High Court Probate Office by The Ditch show Gorman’s estate was valued at €909,107.

Gorman left €50,000 to both ex-taoiseach Bertie Ahern and solicitor Gerald Kean with Kean’s daughter also being left €10,000.

Other beneficiaries of Gorman’s estate include former independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan who was due to get €10,000. Another €10,000 was put aside for Irish Independent switchboard operator Julie Branigan while her daughter Siobhán Branigan was left €25,000.

Gorman left a total of €235,000 in cash gifts to named people. The remaining money in his estate – expected to be over €600,000 after legal expenses – was left to Fianna Fáil.

“I give devise and bequeath the remainder of my estate whatsoever/and wheresoever of which I may die possessed to the Trustees and/or people in control of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party,” declared Gorman in his will dated 17 December 2010.

Gorman added that the money was to “be used for the benefit of the party”. It is unclear however how Fianna Fáil could accept this money under current electoral laws.

During Gorman’s 2016 election campaign he released an election leaflet in response to what he said were “lies” circulating about his private life. He said he was sexually abused as a child and that the abuse had stopped “by order of the IRA Army Council”.

Gorman, in the leaflet, said he had taken part in two pornographic films.

Fianna Fáil declined to comment when asked if they had received any funds from Gorman’s estate.

Ahern and Kean also declined to comment.

The Ditch editors

The Ditch editors