Wednesday 17 October 2018

Hey buddy, can you spare a dime – or $20,000?

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

THE sums range from $10 to a staggering $20,000 – but who are the wealthy donors choosing to bankroll Sinn Fein overseas?

The names of hundreds of companies, businesses, trade unions and individual supporters are contained in a 55-page document detailing the $392,000 (€290,000) taken in by the party over six months.

Sinn Fein has built up a massive support base involving some of America's largest and most prestigious Irish-American groups.

The party received $1,500 from the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which dubs itself the oldest and largest Catholic organisation in the US.

Powerful unions, including truck drivers' union the Teamsters, which previously endorsed US President Barack Obama prior to his election, have also dontated to Sinn Fein.

Meanwhile, a number of supporters of Sinn Fein are also included as donors.

A company owned by Tyrone man Fay Devlin donated $10,000 earlier this year. Mr Devlin is a major supporter of Mr Adams and regularly donates large sums through his Manhattan-based construction company Eurotech.

But while the list includes some respected Irish American business people, it is also made up of companies who hit the headlines for controversial reasons.

The New York-based Marjam Supply Company contributed $5,000 to Gerry Adams's party. A government employment equality agency found that staff at the company were subjected to racial abuse, with one worker repeatedly being branded a "n****r".

Officials found that "a white manager regularly used racial slurs and other racially offensive language, including joking about cross burning" – a ritual associated with the Ku Klux Klan.

The company was ordered to pay out $495,000 to five former employees who took a discrimination lawsuit.

Another New York-based firm, Hugh O'Kane Electric Limited, paid out $1.1m in compensation following discrimination claims by a dozen employees.

According to the documents, the firm handed over US$2,500 to Sinn Fein earlier this year.

Another donor – The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers – hit the headlines after its former boss was sentenced to three years in jail for embezzling pension money.

The party received a $1,000 donation from the association this year. In a previous period, the party also accepted a $5,000 corporate donation from a firm whose former owner was jailed for bribery.

Santo Petrocelli Snr – former chairman of Petrocelli Electric Company – pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery charges.

US authorities found that Petrocelli paid tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to a corrupt union official.

Sunday Independent

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