Wednesday 18 September 2019

'SF must provide details on how it was left €1.65m by mechanic'

William Hampton
William Hampton
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Sinn Féin must outline how it came to benefit to the tune of £1.5m (€1.65m) from a will made by a mechanic who lived in a caravan, Fianna Fáil has said.

Mary Lou McDonald's party has revealed little about the circumstances of the massive donation from Englishman William E Hampton. He was "of no fixed abode" and living in a mobile home in Ireland at the time he made his will in 1997.

Mr Hampton left an estate of almost £2.6m (€2.87m) in the UK when he died aged 82 last year.

The majority of the estate was handed to the executors and trustees - Dessie Mackin and Joe Cahill - who were Sinn Féin's national treasurers. The money was intended to "cover election expenses, to fund Sinn Féin offices and advice centres and to aid republican prisoners".

Sinn Féin disclosed the share it has received to the UK's Electoral Commission and insists it is in "full compliance" with its rules.

Fianna Fáil's foreign affairs spokesman Niall Collins last night said Sinn Féin should reveal more about Mr Hampton's links to the party "in the interests of transparency".

Fianna Fáil’s foreign affairs spokesman Niall Collins last night said Sinn Féin should reveal more about Mr Hampton’s links to the party. Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fáil’s foreign affairs spokesman Niall Collins last night said Sinn Féin should reveal more about Mr Hampton’s links to the party. Photo: Tom Burke

He said: "The public are concerned that a major political party would come across such a large sum of money in unusual circumstances. Given the scale of the money that has been left I'd call on Sinn Féin to set out exactly - step-by-step - how it came to be the beneficiary of this will from this individual."

Sinn Féin did not respond to Irish Independent questions on the matter.

A party spokesman last week said Sinn Féin received a "significant donation from a party supporter who passed away".

"We're obviously pleased that he has chosen to bequest this sum to the party and it's a positive boost to Sinn Féin in working towards Irish unity and towards our political objectives." Sinn Féin has said Mr Hampton came from a wealthy family background.

Fine Gael Senator James Reilly has urged Sinn Féin to return the donation to Mr Hampton's estate.

He said it would break political spending laws if any of the money was used in the south and Sinn Féin should confirm that none of the money will be spent here.

Mr Hampton was described as a "recluse" and a "frail individual" by another beneficiary of the will, former 'Private Eye' journalist Paul Halloran who was left £1,000.

Irish Independent

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