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Saturday 17 March 2018

Young graduate is star of FF's show

Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

FIANNA Fail's fundraising operation has changed a lot since the 1990s when Des Richardson, the party fundraiser and close friend of Bertie Ahern, operated from a suite in the Berkeley Court Hotel.

The Mahon Tribunal inquiries into its financial affairs contributed to the public perception of Fianna Fail being in the back-pocket of builders and bankers.

Now the party is targeting small sums of less than €100 from as many supporters as possible.

The old ways of accepting corporate donations are "just not worth the hassle", given the negative connotations, a senior party figure told the Irish Independent.

But Fianna Fail still has some way to go before its image is cleaned up.

The epitome of the new Fianna Fail fundraising model is an up-and-coming young fundraiser, who rose up through the party's youth wing.

Fundraising executive Darragh McShea was praised in recent weeks for his role in the party more than doubling its income from the national draw.

From the point a few years back where the party almost abandoned the draw, ticket sales went up by 120pc this year, to about €600,000.

In recent years, Fianna Fail increased the price of tickets for the national draw from €20 to €50.

The party also encouraged constituency organisations to sell more tickets by bringing in rebates for those that sell above their quota.

Ticket sales co-ordinators were appointed in each constituency and Fianna Fail TDs and senators were also heavily involved. The party said the funds raised will be used "to defray costs of previous election campaigns", which is a polite way of saying it will go to paying off their €3.65m debt.

Mr McShea, a 24-year-old NUI Galway law graduate, was spotted by party headquarters when he was on the national executive of Ogra Fianna Fail.

Originally from Ballyshannon in south Donegal, he comes from a family that votes Fianna Fail, but wouldn't be active party members.

"He gets things done. He's got 'it'," a party source said.

Appointed as the party's chief fundraiser two years ago, Mr McShea reports directly to the party's head of finance David Burke and general secretary Sean Dorgan.

He'll be pretty busy over the coming two years if the party is to clear its debt before the 2012 general election.

Irish Independent

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