Paschal Donohoe knew he had the fight of his political life.

The stakes could not have been higher.

The temperature was elevated by confirmation earlier today that businessman Michael Stone aided Fine Gael in Paschal Donohoe's constituency in election 2020 as well as 2016.

The minister was helped somewhat by Mr Stone's admission that he failed to tell the politician about the additional support.

But the Dublin Central TD also knew while he was getting a second chance to come before the Dáil to explain his election expenses, if it went badly he may not get a third.

He told politicians he was giving all the information he was aware of in relation to donations.

That was in sharp relief to his appearance last Wednesday when he declined to answer questions about election expenses in 2020 and extended the crisis into a second week.

Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty was clearly correct to press the minister about the most recent general election.

When the answers came today the issues looked more serious than they did last week.

Paschal Donohoe's central argument was that he assumed all of the posters erected during the elections were done on a voluntary basis.

He said he was "so disappointed" he was in this position of revising his election declarations and apologised for a second time in the space of a week.

"Let me be clear. Neither I nor my team were aware of any of the payments to individuals for the erection or removal of posters in either election at the time of filing election returns."

But there was more.

Under the legislation, unregistered corporate doners can only give up to €200 in funds or in a service to a party.

However, Fine Gael in Dublin Central received a donation valued at €434 from Michael Stone in the form of the use of vehicles.

This amounted to an unauthorised corporate donation.


The 'breach'

Paschal Donohoe described this as a "breach" as it exceeded the maximum allowable donation limit of €200.

Since the excessive aid has come to light, Fine Gael in Dublin Central has refunded the €234 to Mr Stone's company, the Designer Group.

The watchdog, the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO), has been notified.


So where does this go next?

While Sinn Féin has not decided if it will trigger a no confidence motion in the minister, it will consider its options over the coming days.

But the admission of the "breach" of rules increases chances of SIPO opting for an investigation of the matter.

It will ultimately decide if there should be a full public hearing on the issue and it may take some time before it makes a decision.

Separately, the affair has shone a light on the issue of political patronage.

This is the practice of supporters of various politicians being appointed to State bodies.

It is a long running practice which has been exercised by other parties when they were in power too.

Mr Stone, who has been close to Paschal Donohoe, was named a director of the powerful Land and Development Agency.

Today he stood down from that position and from the North East Inner City Programme Implementation Board which helps people in one of Dublin's poorer neighbourhoods.

Mr Stone said he was standing down because the political controversy was acting as a distraction from the two organisations.


Lingering questions

While Paschal Donohoe has shed more light on the issues there are lingering questions.

The Labour Party's Ged Nash has said it is a "fantasy" that the donation was one to Fine Gael in Dublin Central and argues it appears more like a donation to Paschal Donohoe personally.

Speaking on RTÉ's Six One News, the minister could not say if Mr Stone's support also resulted in the erection of posters for his running mate Deirdre Duffy in 2020.

The opposition has continually questioned the value of the donations and said they should be higher.

However, if Paschal Donohoe has put all of the relevant information into the public domain many TDs will be hoping this will be the end of the matter.

While Paschal Donohoe’s reputation has been tarnished there is a sense that political system needs to move on to tackle other pressing issues such as housing and health.

The minister will be hoping the focus shifts away from him too.