Bill’s back..

But he’s not staying long.. apparently it’s a three day visit.. just time for a quick chat with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and then to business – passing the hat round for donations to Hillary’s presidential campaign. As the RTÉ report points out, it’s the first fund-raising event for a US presidential candidate to be held in Ireland, and no wonder, as most reports point out only US citizens and green card holders are legally permitted to donate.. Be interesting to check the official donations list against the actual attendees.. Miriam Lord in the Irish Times picks up on that theme. [subs req]

Such has been the demand for tickets to the Hillary Clinton fund-raiser at a private house in Dublin 4 this evening, the organisers made a last-minute decision yesterday to erect a marquee in the back garden.

The big draw is former US president Bill Clinton, who will be rattling his collection tin at a cocktail party in the Raglan Road home of barrister Brian Farren and his solicitor wife, Linda O’Shea-Farren. Mr Farren is an American citizen, and will be one of the few people at the party eligible under US electoral law to contribute to Hillary’s campaign kitty.

But this is politics, the art of the possible, particularly where money is involved. Guests who can’t vote in America are not entitled to make campaign contributions, so Hillary’s Irish supporters will have to channel their admission fee of €1,600 through an American citizen. The law is strict in this regard and it’s not as easy to do as it sounds.


However, around 150 people are more than willing to shoulder the expense and inconvenience in return for a chance to meet Bill, and there are many more waiting in line in the hope of making the guest list.

Clinton’s grip ‘n’ grin appearance, organised by Irish-Americans for Hillary, is expected to raise in the region of a quarter of a million dollars. The fundraising group includes communications consultant Declan Kelly, hotelier John Fitzpatrick and publisher Niall O’Dowd.

Bill Clinton is flying in from London today, and hopes to get in some Christmas shopping during his three-day visit. His first port of call this evening is Government Buildings, where he will meet the Taoiseach for an hour before attending the fund-raiser.

He has no plans to play golf, but it’s unlikely he will leave Ireland without getting in a round or two. The former president’s preferred golf partner here is former Labour leader Dick Spring – the two men have scorched around the Ballybunion links on many occasions. However, when Bill rang Dick Spring to say he was coming to town, he was disappointed to hear the former tánaiste would be away on business in Vietnam.

After tonight’s fund-raiser, the former president will have dinner in a Dublin hotel with poet Seamus Heaney and his wife Marie.

New York-based lawyer Brian O’Dwyer, who flies in this morning for the Ballsbridge event, is very close to the Clintons and is being spoken of as a possible US ambassador to Ireland if Hillary gets into the White House. Democratic Party fund-raiser Stella O’Leary is coming in from Las Vegas for the evening. She is currently working on a book on Hillary Clinton, in association with Irish publisher, Norah Casey.