Sinn Féin’s US group spent €20,800 on party in Northern Ireland

Friends of Sinn Féin takes $5,000 part repayment of loan to Dublin firm for 1916 event

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald was guest speaker at Friends of Sinn Féin’s big fundraising event at the Sheraton Hotel Times Square. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald was guest speaker at Friends of Sinn Féin’s big fundraising event at the Sheraton Hotel Times Square. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

 

Sinn Féin’s US fundraising arm spent $23,312 (€20,800) on expenses for the party in Northern Ireland in the period leading up to the local and European elections, documents show.

The latest submission to the US Department of Justice required under Foreign Agents Registration Act shows Friends of Sinn Féin raised $284,345 (€254,000) in the six months to April 30th, 2019, shortly before the elections last month.

The public record shows a partial repayment of $5,000 was made on a loan provided to Ireland 1916 Commemorations Company, a Dublin-based firm set up by Sinn Féin to hold 1916 Rising commemorative events.

The not-for-profit company owed Friends of Sinn Féin €109,494 and a further €49,349 to Sinn Féin at the end of 2017, according to public accounts. The loan from the US group carries a 4 per cent interest rate.

The Irish company organised an exhibition on the Rising at the Ambassador centre on O’Connell Street Upper during the centenary of the rebellion.

The Manhattan-based Friends of Sinn Féin has been a prolific fundraiser for the party, tapping donors for millions of dollars, mostly from people working in construction and hospitality in the New York area over the past 20 years.

The organisation must report financial expenditures and details of its activities in biannual filings under US law as a foreign agent of a political party.

The most recent six-month reporting period covers the group’s most lucrative fundraising event, the annual Friends of Sinn Féin dinner that took place on November 8th last in New York.

Selling tickets

The guest speaker at the event at the Sheraton Hotel Times Square was Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald, who was introduced by her predecessor, Gerry Adams.

Friends of Sinn Féin raises most of its money by selling about 600 tickets to the event at $500 a head.

The party’s supporters in the construction industry traditionally buy tables and encourage others working in the industry to join them for the Friends of Sinn Féin annual dinner.

Among the biggest donors in the latest six-month period were United Structural Works, a steel manufacturer based in Congers, New York, which made a donation of $20,000.

A further $15,000 was donated by Eurotech Construction, the New York building company owned by Tyrone native Fay Devlin.

A New York-based electrical contractor, Campbell & Dawes, gave a donation of $10,000.

Fundraising event expenses accounted for $176,242 of the group’s expenditure in the six-month period. A further $36,652 was incurred on travel. Total expenses for the half year totalled $330,457.