A US advert campaign, run by Friends of Sinn Féin, raises questions for Sinn Féin about their fundraising and their commitment to the principles of the Good Friday Agreement, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill said that the advert, which is being rolled out today across US newspapers including the New York Times and Washington Post, raises the question of Sinn Féin’s political fundraising yet again.
Deputy Carroll MacNeill said: “This advert calls into account Sinn Féin’s commitment to the ideals of the Good Friday Agreement, but it also highlights their large US donor base and political financing.
“The amount of money being spent on these ads is huge; a half-page ad in the New York Times costs upwards of $90,000. How is this being financed? Is it from the US donations Sinn Féin receive every year?
“According to filings lodged with the US Government, Friends of Sinn Féin raised $295,000 in the six-month period to April 2020. That’s a huge amount of money in the context of Irish political financing, and we know that this comes largely from lavish fundraising events thrown in the US.
“The funds raised are being used to plough money into expensive advertising in US media outlets in an effort to influence Irish politics, including the most sensitive aspects of Irish politics – that of peace and stability on this island.
“Are these donations still being solicited from US donors? Does SIPO have a view on Sinn Féin’s political financing, adverts outside of the State and their influence on Irish affairs?
“This ad clearly calls for a referendum on a United Ireland, but where are Sinn Féin’s ads promoting the building of reconciliation and respect?
“The ad also calls for the Irish Government to plan for and promote Irish unity, and for the British Government to set a date for a referendum. This is irresponsible, divisive and ignores the reality of what this would mean for thousands of people living in the North.
“The message of a referendum on a united Ireland underpinning the ad is distracting from the aspect of the Good Friday Agreement we need to be focusing on now.
“While the Good Friday Agreement recognises the aspiration of a United Ireland, the Agreement also calls on us to dedicate ourselves to the achievement of reconciliation, tolerance, and mutual trust.
“This has yet to be achieved, and without this a United Ireland is unlikely to be achieved.
“The ad states that ‘Their (Unionists) rights, and the rights of all, are guaranteed in a United Ireland.’ In what way has Sinn Féin put in the groundwork to build trust that these rights will be guaranteed?
“The ad also states, ‘It is now time to have an inclusive, informed and respectful discussion.’ Is Sinn Féin having these discussions; if so with who?
“This unrelenting demand for a border poll is irresponsible, divisive and ignores the reality of what this would mean for thousands of people living in the North. Before pushing ahead with any border poll, a detailed understanding of exactly what is involved is needed.
“As the party calling for a United Ireland, Sinn Féin should be leading the way in ensuring that the focus now is on finishing the unfinished business of the Good Friday Agreement by achieving reconciliation, tolerance, and mutual trust across communities and identities. But where is the evidence of this?” concluded Deputy Carroll MacNeill.