Fine Gael senator paid party colleague accused of theft €18,250 from state scheme during investigation

Fine Gael senator Joe O’Reilly has paid ex-councillor and party colleague Seán McKiernan more than €18,000 from a taxpayer-funded allowance – since gardaí started investigating McKiernan for alleged theft from a charity.

Former Cavan County Council cathaoirleach McKiernan is alleged to have stolen more than €172,000.

Last month The Ditch reported that Helen McEntee paid McKiernan almost €29,000 under the same taxpayer-funded allowance.

Bailieborough, county Cavan-based Seán McKiernan appeared in Trim District Court last month charged with the theft of €172,130 from Navan Mental Health Housing Association in 2019.

The Fine Gael man was a director of the charity for almost a decade before resigning in February 2022. In March 2022 both gardaí and the Charities Regulator launched separate investigations into the alleged theft that first came to light in 2021.

McKiernan continued to receive payments from a taxpayer-funded scheme during the criminal investigation, according to freedom of information records released to The Ditch.

County Cavan-based senator Joe O’Reilly paid Consilium Services Ltd, a company wholly owned by McKiernan, €18,250 under the Scheme for Secretarial Assistance from March to November 2022. The payments consisted of €15,750 for secretarial services and €2,500 for public relations work.

Under the Oireachtas scheme TDs and senators can claim an allowance of €41,092 for secretarial assistance, public relations or training.

McKiernan is due to appear in court again later this week in connection with the charity theft charges.

O’Reilly declined to comment.

The Ditch editors

The Ditch editors