This article takes a new perspective on business and politics in Ireland from the comparative literature on business financing of politics. It introduces a theoretical language based on the concepts of ideological and pragmatic donations and discrete and reciprocal exchanges. It goes on to discuss the extent to which the Irish political system generates incentives for these types of behaviour. The empirical core is a quantitative analysis of disclosed donations to TDs between 2002 and 2009, but it also exploits anecdotal sources and official reports. This study concludes that there has been considerable scope for the exchange of brokerage services in reciprocation for small disclosed donations. Current reform proposals will reduce but not eliminate this potential, especially if there is no enumeration of commercial payments and loans received by politicians and parties. © 2013 Political Studies Association of Ireland.