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Saturday 29 April 2017

Sinn Fein raised $1.5m in US over a two-year period

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

MOST Irish political parties have tried their hand at fundraising in the US over the past decade, but it's Sinn Fein that has been by far the most successful.

Foreign political parties that wish to raise cash in the US must register with the Department of Justice there and documents filed by Sinn Fein show that it hauled in more than $1,550,000 (€1.1m) between 2009 and 2011.

Fundraising events were hosted by party leader Gerry Adams and Northern Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, targeting Irish-Americans and their corporations.

The events included a $500-a-plate (€380) Friends of Sinn Fein dinner at Manhattan's Sheraton hotel in November 2010, hosted by Mr Adams, and a dinner in Bobby Van's Grill in Washington DC on St Patrick's Day last year.

US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) records show that Fine Gael was most recently registered to fundraise in 2009.

The previous year, Enda Kenny had hosted a dinner at New York's exclusive Manhattan Club and the party collected almost $30,000 (€22,900) in donations.

The Labour Party is also registered to fundraise. However, just $136 (€103) in donations was recorded in the party's filings and plans to organise fundraising events were abandoned, because, as one party source put it, such events may be "ineffective" and "logistically burdensome".

The party was previously registered briefly in the summer of 1996 as "Friends of Irish Labour in America" but no donations were recorded then.

Donations

Fianna Fail was registered to fundraise in the US between 1984 and 2003. However, the most recent year showing any donations into its coffers was 1999, when the party declared $116,500 (€88,900) that it raised from an event hosted by then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at the exclusive 21 Club in New York.

While overseas fundraising is permitted by the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO), all donations must come from Irish citizens, not foreign nationals. SIPO guidelines state: "The onus is on the recipient of the donation to satisfy him/herself that the donor is an Irish citizen."

Irish Independent

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