independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

US firms helping SF build war chest to fight 2014 elections

Companies that donated to SF censured over racist workers

A Labour councillor has left the party and defected to Sinn Fein
A Labour councillor has left the party and defected to Sinn Fein

SINN Fein is being bankrolled with donations from US companies that have been embroiled in racism, discrimination and embezzlement scandals, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

The revelation comes as Gerry Adams is currently on a fund-raising trip to the US as pressure mounts on him over accusations levelled at him regarding the murder of Jean McConville.

The daughter of the murdered Belfast mother of 10, the most notorious case of 'The Disappeared', believes gardai must reopen the case and interview Mr Adams.

But the Sinn Fein president escaped the spotlight this week by travelling to New York to attend a party fundraiser.

Mr Adams's party is sending tens of thousands of US dollars back to Ireland for campaigning.

The party is ramping up its fundraising drive in the US as it prepares to pump huge sums into next year's local and European elections.

Newly filed documents expose the massive war chest being built by Sinn Fein across the Atlantic.

An investigation by this newspaper can reveal:

* The party took in a staggering $392,000 (€293,000) during the six-month period up until May of this year.

* Almost $50,000 was used to pay printing expenses in Northern Ireland and to purchase a vehicle.

* Sinn Fein has accepted donations from bodies that have been embroiled in racism, embezzlement and corruption scandals.

* The party is receiving individual sums of up to $20,000 and has even been left portions of dead people's estates.

The cash pile being built by Sinn Fein in the US lies in five bank accounts based in New York. The accounts are operated by the Friends of Sinn Fein organisation (FOSF), known internally as the party's fundraising wing.

FOSF is headed by Jim Cullen – a former US army general whose parents are Irish.

Documents filed with the US Department of Justice show that more than $392,000 was received through 280 individual donations between November and May.

This equates to a donation of almost €1,600 every day.

Among the top donors are building contractors, trade unions and business people.

Incredibly, the party's US wing paid the equivalent of just €38 in taxes during the six-month period.

For the first time, it can be revealed that the monies are being directly used in Ireland in order to pay for party expenses.

Detailed documents show that almost $50,000 was transferred home. The majority of this sum ($30,800) is listed as being spent on "printing expenses in the North".

And the remainder was spent on the purchase of a used vehicle for party use.

A number of senior party sources have admitted privately that they know little about the massive fundraising drive, but pointed out that TDs and senators take home the average industrial wage.

ANALYSIS Pages 26, 28, 30, 36

"I'd prefer if it wasn't happening but it's being used for legitimate purposes back home so I can't see us changing tack any time soon," a Sinn Fein TD told the Sunday Independent.

Another senior source expects the drive to continue particularly in light of May's elections.

"This is all left to party workers over in the US.

"The sums are huge but there is an election campaign right around he corner, remember," the source said.

The donations are detailed in accounts given to the US Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Under this act, all political parties based outside of the US must supply fundraising details to the government.

Friends of Sinn Fein regularly stages events in US cities during which senior SF figures deliver addresses.

Delegates were charged around €350 to hear Mr Adams speak at an event in New York last Thursday night.

In a message published within the documents, Mr Adams reiterates his party's desire for a Border poll.

"There would have been no peace process and no agreement without the commitment and the support of Irish America," he wrote. "Since then significant progress has occurred. Most importantly the agreement provides for a Border poll on Irish unity. And Sinn Fein is urging the Irish and British Governments to set a date in the lifetime of the next assembly elections for a referendum to be held."

Niall O'Connor  Political Correspondent

Sunday Independent

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