The Labour Party is coming under pressure to reveal details of its funding of the 1994 European Election campaign. It follows newspaper reports that Woodchester Bank made a political donation to the party of £28,000, the same amount borrowed for the campaign of one of its two candidates in the election, Orla Guerin. The other candidate, former Labour MEP, Bernie Malone, says that in the interest of party democracy a full financial statement must be released.
The 1994 European Election Campaign was a bitter one for the Labour Party. The sitting MEP, Bernie Malone, had been selected to run, but a second name was added to the list: the then RTE journalist Orla Guerin. Today's newspapers report that at the time of the election, four senior Labour Party members had guaranteed loans from Woodchester of £28,000. It is alleged that the then party leader Dick Spring and his close associates Frank Finlay, John Rogers and Greg Sparks organised the funds to help the Guerin campaign.
In a statement, the Labour Party confirmed that after the election the bank responded to a written fundraising appeal, saying that it was prepared to make a political donation of the amount equivalent to the loan. The debt was, in effect, cancelled. However, Bernie Malone says that on several occasions she asked the then Director of Elections, Ruairí Quinn, for a financial statement on the campaign. She says that full details were never given to her.
This is the latest in a series of allegations about political parties and bank debts. The former Labour Leader and his colleagues at the centre of this row say that they are now consulting a solicitor. In their statement, they say that some of the newspaper reports are incorrect and untrue.