Sinn Féin has raised $12 million in the United States over 20 years…

The Irish Times has a major report on Sinn Féins fund-raising efforts in the US.

Over 20 years they received 15,000 donations with the Philanthropist Chuck Feeney being their biggest donor giving $780,000. The Irish Times Reports:

Almost $9.4 million of the $12 million donated were sums of $1,000 or more from individuals and companies ranging from plumbing firms to restaurants, from IT service providers to funeral homes, from air conditioning firms to fish suppliers.

Film actors Martin Sheen, Lord of the Rings star Viggo Mortensen, Dennis Hopper, Irish actor Fionnula Flanagan and Oscar-winner Anjelica Huston also donated money. The party counts judges, lawyers and doctors among its professional donors.

Friends of Sinn Féin’s US fundraising far outstrips that of any other Irish political party. The now defunct Friends of Fianna Fáil Inc raised $1.32 million in a 20-year period to 2003, a tenth of Sinn Féin’s American fundraising haul.

Friends of Fine Gael raised $140,000 in 1995 while a second group, Supporters of Fine Gael Inc, set up in 2007, raised $28,350 the following year.

A Friends of Sinn Féin dinner held last November at the Times Square Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan, the party’s biggest annual bash, will raise an estimated $350,000.

The Sinn Féin accounts dept

The Sinn Féin accounts dept

Sinn Féin it seems is awash with cash. This gives them a huge war chest going into the elections in the Republic. What is also clear is the establishment in the Republic is getting nervous about the rise of Sinn Féin and you are going to see a lot more attention on the party. But as we know from previous experience Gerry Adams & Sinn Féin have an amazing Teflon coating – any criticism bounces of them like bullets off Superman. In fact criticism only seems to fuel them and make them stronger.

Playing devils advocate fair play to Sinn Féin for taking the initiative and extracting such huge sums of cash from the yanks. The SDLP completely squandered the American goodwill towards John Hume and done zero to raise funds. Where is the John Hume Trust? The rest of our politicians slept giving Sinn Féin a free reign to hover up all that Irish American money. As the Yanks would say – ‘it’s like taking candy from a baby…’.

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  • kalista63

    Turn it to sterling, break it down over 20 years, a very meaningless thing to do and it adds up to what this story clearly is.

  • chrisjones2

    “Gerry Adams & Sinn Féin have an amazing Teflon coating – any criticism bounces of them like bullets off Superman”

    Does it really? The question is why? SF are not some superhuman organisation . They have some very good people but some huge weaknesses , not least a damaged and entrenched leadership increasingly looking like yesterdays men but impossible to shift.

    Their two big advantages are that Unionist Parties are so strategically unfocused, stupid and lazy politically and that SF is protected so well owned by a British Government desperate for it to succeed politically .

    How many of those US film stars and companies would donate to a SF tainted by the rape cover ups? By the dumping of all that carcinogenic waste into waterways in South Armagh by their old comrades down there?

    What have the Unionists done to pin them on this in US public opinion. The answer is nothing. The Issue is simple. The DUP and UUP ignore them – their real enemies are each other and they are too busy squabbling for votes, wasting time on gay cakes or just grafting in their own personal interests where there is money to be made on grants or little deals. Far better to have a wee holiday home in the US than attack SF politically there

    Its that indolence and greed that will damage Unionism in the long term – nothing else

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Chrisjones2 highlights some valid points regarding how SF are pretty much given a free reign on this one.

    The current unionist stance lends itself immeasurably to SF’s fundraising efforts in the US:

    The words Brit and British are pretty much universally translated as ‘Englishman’ or ‘English’.

    For every Northern Irish person that labels themselves as British only then that makes things that bit easier to spin the SF narrative in the states as fighting against the ‘English’ is seen as much more acceptable than fighting against fellow Irish people.

    I’m sure SF fund raisers must feel spoiled for choice for suitable TV footage for proof of the nasty Protestants and Brits when it comes to things like ill-disciplined Belfast Orange lodges.

    So the OO also helps the SF case (George Chittick’s Sunday sermons alone must be responsible for 1000’s of dollars worth of donations surely?!).

    The North American St Patrick’s Day parades were originally an Irish Protestant innovation. Perhaps Northern Irish unionists should start to attend them again, perhaps with an impressive pipe band on tow?

    There are many cultural links between Northern Irish Protestants (now unionists) and the US, the various Ulster Scots movements make a point of highlighting these links.

    If the unionists could exploit these links (Presbyterian contribution to the War of Independence, frontiersmen, Protestant evangelism, Confederacy generals etc) then they might start to challenge the romanticised notion that is prevalent in the states.

    I used to work with an American driller from the Southern states;
    He’s religious, stubborn, has very strong opinions and very much a ‘from my cold dead hands’ type.

    He wouldn’t be out of place at all in a religious rural Protestant Northern Irish setting yet he enthusiastically told me how “ah like me them rebels” purely because he swallowed hook, line and sinker the “fighting for freedom against the Brits” nonsense even though he had much more in common with me culturally speaking than any of the Southern Irish lads that worked with us (I’m sure my dour personality didn’t help…).

    This is something the unionists should try to address.

    Unfortunately it does require making a few sacrifices such as reigning in elements of the OO and having to use the dirty ‘I’ word when referring to their nationality.

    A few fiddle playing, banjo picking, Gaelic speaking unionists with an eye on Ulster-American history could sow the seeds of something big and beneficial for unionists in the States, to the extent that they wouldn’t even have to care about what SF manages to achieve.

    Also, a bit of participation in Norn Iron’s St Patrick’s day parades would help too:

    Think how many thousands of Americans come over to Ireland every year for St Patrick’s and only hear the nationalist narrative because most unionists are sulking in their houses and therefore unable to put their view across.

    Till then, their inaction and inability to make a few sacrifices and deviate from the mined path of ‘No Surrender” will ensure that SF continue to reap the benefits that the US has to offer.

  • mjh

    Roughly £350,000 a year.

    No doubt this will be split between NI and ROI.

    For context the Income declared by the central parties (i.e. excluding Assembly and Parliamentary monies) in 2013 was:
    Alliance £92k, DUP £474k, SF £1.16m (NI only), UUP £319k

  • Dan

    Chuck Feeney…..the same one who is using his cash to ‘train’ the Stormont politicans to do their jobs better, which they readily accepted……..

    Talk about corruption of democracy

  • Guest

    Fianna Fáil did a bit of fund raising in the States did they not?

  • mickfealty

    Well, it does seem to flip about quite a lot from year to year.

    2007 they pulled in over a $1 million. That’s when they were struggling to get policing over the line with a lot of sceptical (and some surprised party activists). That’s a lot of muck.

    There seems to be a divergence in the story of where the money actually goes too. Mr Cullen in the US said…

    …he ensures that all money raised goes only to Northern Ireland where it is used to pay for the cost of running the party’s offices and items such as mobile phones, computers and used cars to transport party workers.

    “I actually pay the bill, so I make the cheque to Joe’s Used Auto Lot or to Fred’s Printing Company in Derry,” he said, using hypothetical examples of the kind of suppliers he pays. “That’s how I make sure.”

    Whereas Jonathan O’Brien says…

    The vast majority of money raised in the US stays in the states to promote the peace process and the cause of Irish Unity.

    Ah, which is it guys?

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Who in America is going to listen to either of the Unionist parties, besides what credence would the DUP have since it is so entangled with Sinn Fein? Neither DUP nor Sinn Fein can survive without the other – a bit like HP and LV.

  • mickfealty

    Feeney helped them set up an office in DC, and meet running costs for three years. And that’s it. Not sure he’s done that for any other party, but I’m not sure any other party has asked. The Irish Times (http://goo.gl/mH0kQC)

    The money came from Feeney directly and from two groups associated with him: General Atlantic Group Ltd ($385,000) and Americans for Peace in Ireland ($15,000).

    “The goal was to establish a Washington office to put Sinn Féin on a respectable platform where they could say: ‘This is what Sinn Féin does, we’re not the IRA’,” said Feeney about the donation.

    The money ran out 17 years ago but it remains the biggest single sum provided to Friends of Sinn Féin by an individual or company in its 20-year history.

    Another donor is Pat Donaghy from Tyrone, whose company has been in a spot of bother:

    Structure Tone has fallen foul of the New York city authorities in the past. As far back as 1999 the company pleaded guilty and $10 million in fine to settle corruption charges linked to bid-rigging for a $500 million contract on the Sony building in midtown Manhattan.

    Last year the company agreed to pay a settlement of $55 million after pleading guilty to defrauding clients by arranging for subcontractors to inflate their bills falsely between 2005 and 2009.

    And this on Terry O’Sullivan is an interesting detail…

    “What Terry has is what Sinn Féin loves: he fills tables and spends money – he would take five or six tables at functions,” said one prominent Irish- American businessman.

    O’Sullivan, along with other US trade union leaders, hosted a lunch for Adams and Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald on their St Patrick’s Day visit to Washington DC last year.

    O’Sullivan was unable to speak with The Irish Times about Friends of Sinn Féin for this article, a spokesman for his union said.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Joe
    I think the DUP’s Christian right/evangelism base would find fertile ground in parts of the US.
    Like I said though, they’d have to drop the word ‘Brit’ as over there it means Englishmen and Redcoats.

  • chrisjones2

    PAisley was one the biggest religious broadcasters in the US Radio system, They have a huge potential base

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Yea I remember being abroad once and I explained to a girl that I was British/Irish, the girl asked why I didn’t have an English accent?

  • Starviking

    You know, if it were any other party raising that amount of money from abroad, they’d be pilloried for buying elections. Not SF.

    Quelle surprise!

  • Robin Keogh

    Ultimately its nothing more than a job well done. SF and their supporters in the States saw an opportunity to raise funds and they took. I have to admit, I am a little surprised at the amount, given the amount of coverage their fundraising efforts get, I would have expected it to be much higher. Anyway, its great to know that the Shinners have a bit of cash to fund the party, pay some staff and fight an effective election campaign; given the amount of opposition and black propaganda they always have to put up, they will need every penny to balance things out.

  • mjh

    Agreed, any political party is entitled to do this and SF have done it well.

    However the amounts involved are more than a bit of cash. They help the party to considerably outspend its rivals – which is a significant electoral asset.

  • ‘Plaing devil’s advocate fair play to Sinn Féin’ – so to pass a positive comment on SF is to be an advocate of Beelzebub?? Mmmmmm

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Excellent: presumably this is a fund to compensate their victims … They’ve identified a real need there; well done them for agreeing to spend all this money on the right people. It’s a drop in the ocean, but it’s a start.

    Is there a form people can fill in to apply? Just let me know the contact name and I can pass it on.

  • Brian O’Neill

    Now now Jude stop trying to stir things. You know very well what it means http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil%27s_advocate

  • notimetoshine

    I am horrified, I knew SF got some mone y from the US but this is shocking. So republican politics is bankrolled by misguided ‘irish’ Americans.

    So people without the right to vote here, or for that matter hold citizenship north or south can fund a political movement in another country.

    We rightly are very concerned about corporate involvement in government and politics how is this any different?

    This is a disgrace. One could assume from this that SF policies are dictated from new York or Boston?

  • Jack Stone

    Historically speaking, the person you would have to blame for the “de-loyalizing” of St. Patrick’s day is George Washington. General George Washington allowed his troops a holiday on 17 March “as an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence.” It included a celebratory drill and parade.

    Another problem is that many of the “Irish” things celebrated on St. Patrick’s Day in the US is anathema to Unionists. From the common site of the tricolor at these celebrations (predating its use in the Republic of Ireland by the way) the use of Irish Gaelic in the toasts to the “greening” of everything to even their distain for some of Irish-America’s traditional heroes. Its enough to probably put off the hidebound Unionist standard bearers.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Howdy Jack, thanks for the trivia, I love such tit-bits.

    I was aware of Washington’s holiday but not aware of his reasoning.

    It makes sense though given that the bulk of his Irish rebel contingent were Presbyterians, just like the would be rebel leaders in Ulster.

    Hence Johann Heinreich’s assertion (he being a Hessian mercenary fighting against the rebels at the time):

    “Call this war, dearest friend, by whatever name you may, only call it not an American rebellion; it is nothing more or less than a Scottish-Irish Presbyterian rebellion”.

    I’m aware of how off putting st Patrick’s day in its current format is to unionists. I’m also very aware that nothing will change without their involvement.

  • Jack Stone

    Its more than just St. Patrick’s Day that’s off-putting, its probably large parts of Irish American history. Most of the current Irish American arcana flows out of the massive emigration from Ireland to the United States during the famine and so much of St. Patrick’s day was formed in that mid 1800s mindset. For example, one of the greatest Irish American heroes in American history is Thomas Francis Meagher. Thomas Francis Meagher came to America from Tasmania to become General of the famed Irish Brigade in the Union Army in the Civil War. He was a bonafide war hero and frontier governor who helped draft Montana’s state constitution. He was an inspiration to the Irish Americans who had arrived from Ireland in waves. He was also an Irish Terrorist who lead the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848. He was convicted or sedition and sentenced to be hung drawn and quartered. His sentence was commuted and he was transported to Tasmania for a life imprisonment. Unionists and Irish Americans would have two completely different views of this man. Just one example. One could look at the Kennedy’s support of the IRA or the fact that St. Patrick’s day is a catholic saint day or a hundred other small problems that Unionists would have with marketing St. Patrick’s day.

    Personally I think that the whole Irish thing is a loser for a party like the DUP and that they should market themselves as plain old religious conservatives to the evangelical supporters on the American right. There is too much baggage in St. Patrick’s day to be co-opted by so few.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    For the DUP, I agree, St Pat’s day is a stretch and they certainly would be more at home in the Bible Belt.

    Small ‘u’ unionists on the other hand could make an inroads regarding the great number of St Patrick’s day events in the States especially those in areas of Scots-Irish heritage.

    The thing that occurs to me regularly is how often things shift 180 degrees:

    It would have been inconceivable at one point in American history that St Pat’s day would become a ‘Catholic thing’.

    I’m sure few would have thought that the Republican movement would have become a ‘Catholic thing’ or that the Republican Belfast Newsletter would become a ‘unionist thing’.

    These changes came about because of circumstances, luck (good and bad) and determination.

    Just because St Patrick’s day is at present a nationalist thing doesn’t mean that it can’t change, especially as far as Northern Ireland is concerned (think about it, if you were a hard core nationalist you’d be unlikely to think “if only the unionists would become involved in St Patrick’s day, what with all their bands and love of marching it would just be so awesome…”

  • Jack Stone

    Personally, I think the Irish identity is more complicated then that. It ignores things like that, in the time period of the American Revolution, Presbyterians were more likely to side with Theobald Wolfe Tone and James Napper Tandy rather than the current Protestant leaders like Peter Robinson. It is more complicated than that because Irish Republicanism in America lacks the religious component which exists within Ireland itself. Part of the reason why Sinn Fein’s rhetoric works so well in the United States because many see comments like when Martin says that Sinn Fein stands for a “ nation that cherishes all of her children equally, regardless of colour or creed”, they believe him. Its part of the reason why Sinn Fein works so hard to cultivate an image where Sinn Fein wants to unite Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter under the common name of Irishmen. Because, in America, you can, without irony, walk into a Irish bar called Napper Tandy’s (named after the aforementioned protestant revolutionary) and see pictures of Catholic revolutionaries like Pearse and Joseph Plunkett with Michael Collins on the same wall with Protestants like Wolfe Tone, and Sir Roger Casement (Homosexuality and death bed conversion aside) with atheists like James Connolly. Hell, there is a statute of James Connolly in New York. There is a statute of Robert Emmet (Protestant Irish Revolutionary) at the California Academy of Sciences, in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and even a Robert Emmet Elementary School in Chicago. (That is a state run public school mind you and not a private school) Irish Republicanism in America lacks the particular religious sectarianism that it has in Ireland.

  • Jack Stone

    Why else do you think Sinn Fein is lobbying the Irish government to allow a presidential vote for Irish living abroad? Its a constituency for Sinn Fein. My parents are Irish citizens and my mom hasn’t lived in Ireland since she was in her 20s (and even then it was in Northern Ireland) and I am an Irish citizen but didn’t live on the island until I went abroad for my education. Sinn Fein wants people in the diaspora to have a right to vote for president because that means more presidential votes for Sinn Fein. They already have a funded campaign machine on the ground in America, Australia and the UK.