US firm set up by Sinn Féin funded exhibition
Display on 1916 Rising in Ambassador centre, Dublin operated at a loss
The Ambassador centre on Upper O’Connell Street, Dublin. The Sinn Féin company’s exhibition was controversial because it also included material referring to the 1980-1981 hunger strikes
A company established by Sinn Féin to commemorate the 1916 Rising received a loan of more than €100,000 from the party’s US fundraising arm, accounts filed in Dublin show. The loan remains unpaid.
The company was established by Sinn Féin in 2015 and was behind an exhibition on the 1916 Rising in the Ambassador centre on Upper O’Connell Street, Dublin, during 2016.
The company made a loss from the event and has been carrying the loss since.
The president of Friends of Sinn Féin USA, Mark Guilfoyle, said the loan to the Sinn Féin company did not constitute financial support for the party. Political parties in the Republic are not allowed receive funding from foreign entities.
“Friends of Sinn Féin loaned money directly to Ireland 1916 Commemorations Ltd, a not-for-profit concern, to support an exhibition commemorating the centenary of the 1916 Rising.
“The loan accrues interest at 4 per cent per annum. The transaction thus does not involve the financial support of any political party in the Republic of Ireland.
“We still consider this to be an outstanding loan, and I am assured that our Department of Justice filings [in the US] are in order.”
A request for a comment from the Sinn Féin press office met with no response.
The latest accounts for Ireland 1916 Commemorations show that it had an outstanding debt of €109,494 to Friends of Sinn Féin, as well as a debt of €49,349 to Sinn Féin itself, at the end of last year. Previous years’ accounts did not disclose to whom the company owed money.
The exhibition proved controversial because as well as having exhibits relating to the Rising, it also included material referring to the 1980-1981 hunger strikes.
The Advertising Standards Authority subsequently criticised the advertising of the event because it did not mention that it involved exhibits other than those linked to 1916. This was in breach of a code that advertisers should not exploit “the credulity, inexperience or lack of knowledge of consumers”.
However the authority did not uphold a complaint that the original advertisement contained no reference to Sinn Féin’s involvement in the project.
Accounts show that at the end of 2017, Ireland 1916 Commemorations Company had net liabilities of €119,260.
Notes to the accounts, which are dated November 22nd, said the company’s two debtors would not seek repayment of the money owed until the company was in a position to pay it. The company’s turnover last year was €1,100.
Friends of Sinn Féin has operations in the US, the UK and Australia. The US fundraising arm raised $309,802 (€265,000) between November 2017 and April 2018, according to filings in the US.
The bulk of its money comes from its annual dinner in New York, the organisation of which also constitutes its largest annual expense.