Adams faces IRA accusations as he makes $500 New York speech
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams faced fresh accusations that he was an "extremely senior member" of the IRA as he prepared to speak at a $500-a-head dinner last night.
Former IRA member Sean O'Callaghan alleged that he sat in high-level meeting of the terrorist organisation alongside Mr Adams.
"We all know that Gerry was an extremely senior member of the IRA for years. You know I've been at IRA meetings with him. Everybody knows it," said Mr O'Callaghan, who was jailed for life in 1990 after he admitted to two murders. He was freed under a Royal Prerogative in 1996.
Meanwhile, Mr Adams and his deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald missed Dáil debates on the Social Welfare and Finance bills in order to attend the lavish event in New York.
As a result, they were attacked by all the main parties for "rubbing shoulders with super-wealthy Americans" while the Budget was being discussed at home.
Around 700 people were due to attend the fundraiser in Manhattan, meaning Sinn Féin stand to make more than €300,000. The cocktail and dinner party was sponsored by a number of US-based construction firms.
The Dáil was yesterday debating changes to USC rates, income tax rates, child benefit and pension payments.
Labour TD Eric Byrne said: "When it comes to Welfare and Finance, as far as Deputies Adams and McDonald are concerned, the only things that matters are the welfare of Sinn Féin, and the finance to fund their political operations."
Fine Gael's Noel Harrington said the fundraiser gave "a startling insight into how Sinn Féin's is supported by a golden circle of American property developers". "In fact, Sinn Féin is like Celtic Tiger era Fianna Fáil on steroids," he said.
And Fianna Fáil's Jim O'Callaghan said: "At some stage naive Americans that donate to Sinn Féin will wake up and see that Sinn Féin views them as a wealthy but slightly dim uncle who can be fooled into parting with his cash."
Sinn Féin rejected what they called "opportunistic posturing" by the other parties.
"Tánaiste Joan Burton absented herself from a Dáil debate on the North on Tuesday as soon as she finished her own rambling contribution. So Sinn Féin won't take any lectures from Labour TDs on Dáil attendance," a spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Sean O'Callaghan has claimed that everything the republican movement was doing now was geared towards the General Election in the Republic.
"An awful lot of what will follow from the result of that," said Mr O'Callaghan.
"I don't think that Gerry Adams could persuade anyone that the IRA won, so there is always a danger of things slipping back in some way," he said.
Sinn Féin said his claims were "outlandish".