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Wednesday 22 March 2017

Labour's US fundraising drive brings in just €100

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

LABOUR Party supporters in the US are abandoning plans to raise cash there -- just nine months after they registered the party to allow for potentially lucrative fundraising.

In a move that would have permitted the party to follow in the footsteps of Sinn Fein, whose US cash drives have proved massively successful, three New York-based Labour activists registered the party with the US Department of Justice under legislation that allows fundraising.

However, records show that party coffers were boosted by just $136 (€100).

It is understood that the group known as Supporters of the Irish Labour Party Inc, now plan to amend their registration, cancelling their permission to fundraise.

The revelation that the party is registered for fundraising emerged in filings made to the US Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

The papers show that the application was made just days after Tanaiste and party leader Eamon Gilmore met one of the activists while on a visit to the Big Apple for St Patrick's Day.

However, a source said that while the group had "contemplated the possibility" of fundraising, such plans were abandoned when it was thought such events would be "ineffective" and "logistically burdensome".

The source said that the supporters never had concrete plans to raise cash and registered to fundraise out of "an abundance of caution" to comply with US law.

A spokesman for the Labour Party said: "The decision by 'Supporters of the Irish Labour Party' to withdraw its registration is entirely a matter for the group itself."

Meanwhile, Dublin-born but US-based lawyer Patrick Mair (30), who is described as the president of the group in registration papers, refused to comment.

While Mr Gilmore was in New York, the Tanaiste met Mr Mair at a function at the Irish consulate, though the party spokesman said that there had been "no agenda" for this meeting.

Mr Mair subsequently wrote to the US Justice Department to register under FARA legislation.

Brother and sister Conor (31) and Alison Doyle (27) are named as co-directors.

The Labour Party spokesman said: "Each of these are supporters of the Irish Labour Party based in the United States.

"They are not members and do not, nor never have, held any position in the party."

Despite this, the FARA application records Labour Party general secretary Ita McAuliffe as the Irish contact for the US-based supporters and the address of party headquarters at Dublin's Ely Place is cited on the form.

Declaration

The papers also state that: "The registrant will disseminate information on behalf of the foreign principal; coordinate and conduct fundraising on behalf of the foreign principal."

The form requires the declaration of political donations made within two months prior to the application.

Just one donation of $136.36 (€100), given by Mr Mair himself before the general election in February, was duly noted in this section.

The spokesman said that Labour election promises to introduce limits on political donations remained in the programme for government.

Fine Gael had pledged to introduce an outright ban on corporate donations.

However, both parties have so far failed to deliver on these promises.

Irish Independent

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