A former Mayor of Cork County has pleaded guilty to failing to properly file election expenses in a case described as "bureaucracy gone mad".
Alan Coleman, who has served as a councillor since 1991, failed to comply with Standards in Public Office (SIPO) requirements to file election expenses after he unsuccessfully contested the 2020 general election.
Mr Coleman, a dairy farmer, said he was busy calving some 200 cows after his unsuccessful election bid. When the pandemic hit, he said he could not call into the bank to get his bank statements and was having difficulty accessing them online.
He said he did complete the financial returns prior to the prosecution.
“This is a waste-of-time prosecution,” his solicitor Ray Hennessy said.
But Judge James McNulty said the SIPO Commission had to make sure standards were upheld and people must record their expenditure.
Judge McNulty said Mr Coleman, of 3 The Spires, Inishannon, was “no stranger’ to filing expenses as he was a long-serving politician.
"He also has a dairy farm income. He who takes the benefit must take the burden. This man had obligations and failed to comply.”
State solicitor Malachy Boohig explained that a general election candidate who did not receive sufficient votes was obliged to file election expenses within 56 days.
Despite repeat emails sent to Mr Coleman, the returns were not made in accordance with the legislation.
Judge McNulty convicted Mr Coleman and fined him €500, to be paid within 30 days.
Maths teacher Kevin O’Connor of Derigra West, Balineen, was also before Bandon District Court for failing to comply with the same regulations.
He ran unsuccessfully as a first-time candidate for Solidarity-People Before Profit in the 2020 general election.
When the pandemic hit, he was busy leading his school’s adoption of new communications technology to migrate to online teaching that he had “totally forgotten" about his election requirements, he said.
He said he was so busy with work emails that he did not check his personal email properly and missed notices from the SIPO Commission.
Judge McNulty convicted him and fined him €400, with 30 days to pay.
This story first appeared on irishexaminer.com.