Overseas cash gives party big head-start over rivals
SINN Fein is unique among Irish parties in having a successful US funding wing which gathered almost $2m (€1.59m) over the past three years. In the six months up to last April, $412,000 (€325,000) was gathered in donations.
By comparison, Fine Gael's last US fundraiser was in 2008, when it raised $30,000 (€22,900) as Enda Kenny hosted a dinner at New York's Manhattan Club.
Records show that the US organisation Friends of Sinn Fein received 191 donations ranging from $50 (€39) to $15,000 (€11,841) between last November and April of this year.
Many of the donations came as a result of the $500 (€394)-a-head dinner in the Sheraton Hotel in New York that was hosted by Gerry Adams last November.
All accommodation and flight expenses for Sinn Fein politicians are paid for out of the cash raised in the US.
During his recent trips, Mr Adams stayed at the Hilton Hotel at Newark Station and the four-star Affina Hotel in Manhattan, where the cheapest room is €160 per night.
During this six-month period, Friends of Sinn Fein spent around $23,000 (€18,143) on transport, $13,000 (€10,255) on accommodation and $2,500 (€1,972) on advertising.
But its largest cost was dinners and drinks for donors -- it spent $128,000 (€100,976) on catering.
That left Friends of Sinn Fein with a surplus of $179,000 (€141,214), which it deposited in its three bank accounts in New York.
It said that none of the donations received were used in the Republic of Ireland, where there is a ban on donations from overseas. But there is no such ban on overseas donations in the North.
Sinn Fein is also milking Westminister to claim costs of £460,000 (€568,000) a year for its constituency offices in the North.
This is despite the fact that its five MPs are still refusing to take their seats.
Sinn Fein said people voted for its abstentionist MPs and that it used the money to provide "first-class constituency services".