Pat Leahy says that in the Republic the size of Sinn Fein’s campaigns and the money they claim to have spent don’t square. Election law on the declaration of finances does not compell parties to be transparent about incomings and outgoings. The party calms it benefits from a high degree of volunteerism. But with the law allowing for such lattitude in accounting and official figures suggesting that Fianna Fail spent 200 times more than it in the council elections, it will have a hard time convincing sceptics.There are plenty of accusations, but little in the way of concrete evidence of any mis-reporting. He notes the party’s policy of party members with political salaries donating a large amount of it to the party coffers. In some cases this requires them to take a severe cut in earnings from previous non political jobs.
However, he questions the plausibility of past figures lodged as over-seas funding in the US:
Sinn Féin has been raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in the US (and elsewhere) for many years, through the party’s fundraising arm, Friends of Sinn Féin. The national party’s accounts for 2003 shows “donations’‘ of just €464,000. But ten days ago in New York, over 1,000 people paid $500 a head at a Sinn Féin fundraiser. That’s half a million dollars in income for just one event. Where does it end up? The more you look at the Sinn Féin sums, the more curious they look.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty