SINN Fein today defended its US fundraising efforts which have pulled in $12m from American big business, Hollywood stars and trade unions.
The party said “everything is above board” about its sophisticated fundraising efforts in the USA.
Reports today revealed that the party’s US arm has consistently pulled in six-figures sums of money every year for the last 20 years netting the equivalent of almost €11m since 1995.
The state of the art fund-raising effort has consigned to history the traditional image of a hat being passed in Irish-American bars, as rebel songs are sung.
Accounts show that fundraisers pulled in $1.1m in 1995 when the Northern Ireland peace process was gathering pace.
Every year since then hundreds of thousands have been raised by the “Friends of Sinn Fein USA” ranging from a low of $300,000 to a top figure of $1.2m in 2007.
The fundraising effort is headed by retired US Army general, Jim Cullen, a Vietnam war veteran whose parents come from Co Sligo.
Sinn Fein’s finance spokesman, Pearse Doherty, today defended the US fundraising efforts.
The Donegal TD said most of the money raised in the USA was spent there, and among SF supporters in Britain, Australia and elsewhere across the world, promoting their party and associated efforts.
Mr Doherty insisted none of the money was spent on Sinn Fein’s work in the Republic of Ireland.
Irish electoral law expressly forbids the political parties here accepting overseas donations.
But some money is spent on some facilities – such as cars, office costs, computers and phones – for the party in the North.
“There is nothing new here. All Sinn Fein donors in the USA are recorded and we publish all our details,” Mr Doherty said.
The well-known Irish-American philantrophist, Chuck Feeny, is among a top list of US Sinn Fein donors having stumped up a total of $780,000.
The Labourers’ International Union of North America donated $223,000.
Another big donor is construction millionaire, Pat Donaghy, who left his native Tyrone in 1959 and is listed as giving almost $207,000.
Jim Cullen, chairman of Friends of Sinn Fein USA, said his organisation abides by all the US strict rules on fundraising and record-keeping.
But Mr Cullen said the organisation preferred to pay bills for Sinn Fein rather than send money across the Atlantic.
THE Dail’s Committee of Procedure and Privilege (CPP) has found Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald to be in breach of Dail rules after she named six individuals listed in the controversial Ansbacher dossier.