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Sinn Féin’s US fundraising arm sends $51,000 back to party in Belfast for ‘election expenses’

Friends of Sinn Féin says Irish diaspora across US starting to realise united Ireland is realistic objective

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald: Funds raised in the US promoted the Irish Unity Summit in New York on March 1st and paid for advertisements ahead of St Patrick’s Day 'calling for concrete planning of Irish unity'. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Friends of Sinn Féin, the party’s US political and fundraising arm, sent $51,000 (€47,700) back to the party’s Belfast base, according to new US official filings.

The figure is detailed in the group’s latest six-month filing withUS department of justice, which requires foreign agents of political parties to outline their activities.

Mark Guilfoyle, president of Friends of Sinn Féin, told The Irish Times that the figure represented funds periodically transferred for “permissible election expenses in the North”.

Sinn Féin is standing candidates in 14 of Northern Ireland’s 18 constituencies in the UK general election on July 4th.


Discussing a busy period of events and meetings for the organisation, Mr Guilfoyle said the Irish diaspora across the US was beginning to realise that a united Ireland was a realistic objective.

“The engagements we undertake in the US are designed to keep US stakeholders informed on a wide range of issues: efforts to plan for Irish unity, legacy issues and the need to protect the Good Friday [Belfast] Agreement,” he said in an emailed response to queries.

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“That same can be said for our engagements on social media. Folks in the US are realising that unity is no longer a mere aspiration. It is a doable project and, over the next several months, we will be unveiling some specific strategies for giving the diaspora its rightful say in the unity conversation.”

Of the $374,351 disbursed or spent over the six-month period to the end of April, almost one-third of the total expenditure, or $113,139, was devoted to newspaper advertising.

Mr Guilfoyle confirmed that the money was used to promote the Irish Unity Summit, an event held in New York city on March 1st, and to pay for a series of advertisements ahead of St Patrick’s Day “calling for concrete planning of Irish unity and for the establishment of an inclusive Citizens’ Assembly”.

Expenditure also included $69,427 spent on an outing to Hudson National Golf Club in New York used to raise funds for the organisation.

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The filing details the extent of the party’s political activity in the US during the six months, described as briefings and meetings supporting Irish unity and the Belfast Agreement.

These included a series of in-person meetings ahead of the summit attended by party leader Mary Lou McDonald and Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty and an address by New York governor Kathy Hochul.

On the eve of that event, Ms McDonald attended in-person meetings at the permanent mission of Ireland to the United Nations, with Palestine’s permanent UN representative, to discuss Gaza, geopolitical challenges and the work of the UN, and to have a meeting with the staff of the Irish Arts Centre.

She also met Bank of America representatives, congressional representatives including Detroit’s Rashida Tlaib to update her on political developments in Ireland and to discuss the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

The records show that Friends of Sinn Féin raised $55,753 for the period, which included a $20,000 grant from the Knights of the Red Branch, a charitable enterprise based in California, and almost $9,000 through the sale of merchandise.

The remainder of the money raised was through small donations ranging from $5 to four-figure contributions.

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That relatively small figure is in keeping with annual trends in which the bulk of Friends of Sinn Féin’s income is generated during the second half of the year.

The organisation has raised more than $2 million over the past five years. Mr Guilfoyle said the US group was “extremely gratified” by the support in both fundraising and what he described as a “growing base of activists” in the US.

Keith Duggan

Keith Duggan

Keith Duggan is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times