Sinn Fein take in close to €400,000 at US fundraiser
Sinn Féin took in nearly €400,000 from wealthy Irish-Americans to spend on political campaigning from its most successful US fundraising dinner.
Just months away from a General Election, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has moved on from his €460-a-plate dinner in New York to attend another party fundraiser in Toronto where guests are being charged €87.
The Manhattan cocktail and dinner party was attended by around 700 people on Thursday night.
Mr Adams went straight from New York to Toronto for a similar event where he is the guest speaker.
Irish-American website, 'Irish Central', estimated the party made $400,000 (€375,000) from the event with guests entering the Metropolitan West Ballroom at The Sheraton Hotel, Times Square to the sounds of "The Town that I Loved so Well," "Grace" and "Whiskey in the Jar".
A founding member of the Friends of Sinn Féin, Fay Devlin, described it as the most successful fundraising dinner in its 20 year history.
Ms Devlin, who is described as one of the party's top 10 US donors, told the attendance that almost 100 tables were sold for the event.
The event was supported by US-based construction companies and trade unions.
The Canadian event is being held in the Hilton hotel in downtown Toronto which describes its dining as "an upscale affair".
Asked about claims by convicted killer Sean O'Callaghan earlier this week that they had sat in IRA meetings together, Mr Adams replied: "It's untrue."
Speaking to the Irish Independent he dismissed criticism by Fine Gael and the Labour Party that he was missing the passage of the Finance and Social Welfare Bill.
"It's mock outrage by them. I know that I was in the Dáil last night until 11 o'clock. I noticed a Labour absence on the bill for ethnicity for the Travelling people," the Louth TD said.
"I noticed the day before when we had a debate on the North, the absence of both Labour and Fine Gael - Oireachtas members and indeed the Tánaiste flew in, made a few incoherent remarks and then left.
"So there should be no poking Sinn Féin on this issue. We know where we stand on these matters."
Since it was established in 1995 the Friends of Sinn Féin group has raised more than $12m (€11.2m).
Mr Adams defended his absence from the Dáil on a day when Universal Social Charge cuts and child benefit measures were being debated, saying he wanted to "send a word" to the Taoiseach and Tánaiste.
"Mary and I are coming back, we'll see you in the Dáil, and we'll hold you to account for all the things that you haven't done despite all of your promises in the last election," he said.