Taoiseach didn’t declare 2018 donations – finally acknowledged five years later

Leo Varadkar submitted a further two false statutory donation statement declarations to SIPO, it can be revealed. The latest revelations are separate from the 2022 donation he failed to declare – and the other two false declarations this failure resulted in – as reported by The Ditch on Friday.

It took an ultimatum from SIPO a few months ago for the Fine Gael party leader to admit he also failed to declare three 2018 donations worth more than €2,500, according to documents obtained by The Ditch.

Knowingly making a false statutory declaration is a criminal offence. 

A barrister, a PR firm and a businessman  

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in January 2019 submitted his 2018 annual donation statement to SIPO, claiming he didn’t receive any political donations exceeding €600 during that year. 

His statement came with a signed and witnessed declaration made under the Statutory Declarations Act 1938. Varadkar “solemnly and sincerely” declared the information he gave was correct to the best of his knowledge.

SIPO last August began probing Varadkar’s failure to declare donations in both 2018 and 2022, as reported by The Ditch. After the ethics commission gave the taoiseach two weeks to address discrepancies in his 2018 statement, he finally addressed donations he’d failed to declare. 

In a new statement for 2018, which came after The Ditch’s first report on irregularities in the original, Varadkar disclosed he had in fact received two donations totalling €1,874.18 from Centric Health co-founder Dr Ray Power and barrister Ciaran Toland. In 2019 he had made a “solemn declaration” he had received no such donations.

The August 2023 statement shows Varadkar received two payments of €937.09 each from Toland and Power in 2018.

But Varadkar still hadn’t told the full truth.

In November 2023 he disclosed a third undeclared 2018 donation from public relations firm Edelman. He claimed in the third version of his 2018 annual statement that he refunded the €704.93 payment to Edelman in August 2023 after “realising it was not an intermediary donation”.

It is unclear why Varadkar failed to declare the existence of the Edelman donation in his second 2018 donation statement – given he claimed to have refunded it earlier that month.

Varadkar has refused to say why he failed to disclose the three 2018 donations, instead referring to his two new statutory declarations as “amendments”.

“The taoiseach is compliant with the requirements of the Standards in Public Office Commission in relation to political donations. He engaged with SIPO and amended his declarations on their advice last November. He does not have to make another declaration and has been informed by SIPO that there are no outstanding queries from them,” said a spokesperson for Varadkar.

In total the taoiseach made four false statutory declarations concerning four donations worth €3,612.31 that he received in 2018 and 2022. Just more than €738 of this money was refunded to two donors.

The Ditch editors

The Ditch editors