Monday, November 14, 2005

Sinn Féin fundraising drive in US nets €400k

Paul T Colgan:

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams addressed Irish-American supporters by video link in the Sheraton Hotel in New York last week at a dinner that raised about $400,000 for the party.

Adams cancelled a planned visit to the US following a State Department decision prohibiting him from raising funds during the trip. He had been invited as guest of honour to an event hosted by businessman William J Flynn on Tuesday.

However, the Sinn Féin leader spoke to more than 1,000 people on Thursday night by satellite link.

Party sources said the $500-a-plate dinner had raised about $400,000 once the cost of putting together the event had been taken into account.

It is likely that a number of donations were also made to the party on the night.

Another $150-a-plate dinner in Toronto last week means that Sinn Féin is likely to have raised more money last week than Fianna Fáil collects from its tent at the Galway Races - the highest-profile and most controversial political fundraising event of the year. The Galway Races is estimated to raise about €400,000 for Fianna Fáil.

Adam's trip to the US was organised as part of Sinn Féin's 100th anniversary celebrations. The party claimed that the US government had denied him permission to raise funds in order to force Sinn Féin to accept the current policing arrangements in the North.

A senior republican source said that the party's position on policing was straightforward. It would not endorse policing until the British government implemented a deal it agreed with Sinn Féin in recent negotiations.

“We currently have an agreement with the British on what should happen with regards to policing,” said the source.

“The North has one of the lowest crime rates in western Europe - ours is a lawful, law-abiding community that wants to be policed. We want this sorted out.

“The State Department's decision was a disappointing one and is at odds with our agreement. We want to get policing right, and I've no doubt that we will get it right'‘.

Friends of Sinn Féin in the US, Canada and Australia raise hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of dollars for the party every year. However, the money can only be used in the North, as electoral finance laws in the Republic prohibit the use of foreign-generated money for electoral purposes, except where that money comes from Irish citizens abroad.

The Friends of Sinn Féin website invites contributions to support the party's task of achieving a united Ireland. “A lasting peace,” says a statement from Adams, “if it is to be successful, must have international support.”

Detention without trial vote puzzler

Fraud Act is an instrument to deny votes


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