Taoiseach accuses Sinn Féin of ‘murkiness’ in fundraising

Mary Lou McDonald insists party complies with law, warns Varadkar against slander

Leo Varadkar asked if Sinn Féin accepted corporate donations above €200, which would not be permitted in Ireland.

Leo Varadkar asked if Sinn Féin accepted corporate donations above €200, which would not be permitted in Ireland.

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar took a potshot at Sinn Féin in the Dáil and claimed there was a “certain murkiness” around its political fundraising and that it was using partition to its advantage.

But Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald retorted that her party was “trebly regulated” in the State, in Northern Ireland and for any funds raised overseas.

She said there was nothing stopping Fine Gael from organising in the North and she warned Mr Varadkar against slandering her or her colleagues.

The row erupted as the Taoiseach answered questions about the reform and security of the electoral process and the establishment a statutory electoral commission.

Mr Varadkar also announced the Government’s intention to hold a referendum in May on extending the vote in presidential elections to Irish citizens outside the State.

He said that any fundraising carried out by Fine Gael was in accordance with the law and his party accepted no corporate donations of more than €200.

“We brought in that law to break the link between business and politics.”

He said he was concerned that Sinn Féin “may be using partition as an advantage” because it operated in both Ireland and the UK.

He said the rules on corporate donations in the UK and the US “are very different and much looser than they are here”.

Mr Varadkar added: “This creates a murkiness surrounding Sinn Féin’s finances and the way in which it engages in political fundraising.” And he asked if the party accepted corporate donations above €200 which would not be permitted in Ireland.

But Ms McDonald said it was “entirely wrong and factually incorrect to suggest on the record of the Dáil that there is anything murky or illegal about our party’s financing or fundraising”.

The Taoiseach then suggested that “the defensiveness would indicate that there is something to hide”.

The Sinn Féin leader retorted: “There is nothing at all to hide, but you will not slander me or my colleagues with abandon.”

Mr Varadkar repeated his question on whether Sinn Féin accepted corporate donations of more than €200 from any corporation in the UK or the US and this would set it apart from other parties.

Ms McDonald said that “everything is raised in compliance with the law”.