Sinn Féin has yet more questions to answer about its latest irregular financial arrangements, the Leader of the Seanad has said.
Fine Gael Senator, Regina Doherty, called on Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald to make a statement in relation to reports that the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) is investigating her party for use of monies raised abroad to fund political activities here.
Senator Doherty said: “The latest revelations about Sinn Féin’s peculiar financial arrangements are of huge concern.
“It is reported today that SIPO is investigating Sinn Féin for two companies it appears they set up to use monies raised abroad here in Ireland.
“It is alleged that a Donegal office they bought for Deputies Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Pearse Doherty, who is the Party’s Finance spokesperson and Treasurer, was paid for from a company set up by Sinn Féin to raise funds abroad.
“It is reported that at the opening of the office Deputy Mac Lochlainn thanked people in America and Australia for contributing to the funding of the office. He later changed his tune in a radio interview denying foreign donations were involved.”
It is also reported that another Sinn Féin company borrowed almost €110,000 from the party’s fundraising organisation in the United States, Friends of Sinn Féin USA, to run an exhibition commemorating the 1916 Rising and the hunger strikes.
Senator Doherty continued: “Where is Mary Lou McDonald in all of this? I believe she should make a statement as soon as possible in relation to this reported SIPO investigation.
“This is just the latest in a series of financial peculiarities in Sinn Féin, that quite frankly make a mockery of the ethical rules and standards protecting our democracy.
“It was revealed they set up a research company in the North, ‘Research Services Ireland’, to allow 36 MLAs claim over £700,000 in mileage and expenses. It turned out that one of them couldn’t even drive but it didn’t stop him pocketing £5,000 for 11,500 miles travelled.
“Last year, £30,000 meant for businesses struggling with COVID-19 was found in the bank accounts of Sinn Féin representatives. At the time, Sinn Féin used the Father Ted excuse – the money was just resting in my account.
“It also emerged last year that Sinn Féin accepted a €4 million bequest from the Estate of Englishman William Hampton, despite the fact that the limit on political donations is €2,500 thanks to a law brought in by Fine Gael as part of our work to clean up Irish politics when we entered Government.
“One of the great fictions of Irish politics is Sinn Féin’s claim that they are anti-establishment, the party of the ordinary working person. They are actually the richest party in the country. In the North their income last year was £2.5 million by comparison with the SDLP’s £150,000. They own 50 properties south of the border. They have a global fundraising network, most prominent in the United States, where ‘Friends of Sinn Féin’ hold $500 a plate dinners and have a website where you can donate directly to their work in the North.
“It is hugely important that Sinn Féin is not using money raised abroad from non-Irish citizens to fund their political activities here in Ireland. The laws governing political financing are there to protect everyone and to uphold ethical standards in our democracy. There are too many examples of Sinn Féin people behaving as though there is one rule for them and another for everybody else.”