Category: Archive

Echo Focus: Money matters

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Top Sinn Fein leaders remain shut out of their party’s fundraising efforts on American soil but Trimble’s own party has discovered that fundraisings has its downside.
The party has been named as the holder of a “secret” U.S. bank account in a newspaper report.
Meanwhile, the SDLP’s latest U.S. financial push effort had a wobbly start when there was an apparent blurring of lines regarding the host venue’s precise role, and the SDLP’s sponsoring of an event at Glucksman Ireland House in Manhattan.
In the continued absence of normal day-to-day politics in Northern Ireland, the efforts of the leading parties to raise money in the U.S. and elsewhere has never been less than a critical consideration.
And those efforts continue to be a flashpoint for argument, invective and finger pointing.
Parties in the Republic, and even occasional independent political candidates, have also viewed the U.S. as a lucrative proposition over the years and they continue to do so.
Fine Gael has made noises in recent times about a more organized U.S. fundraising effort.
Fianna F_il operated a significant fundraising arm, the Friends of Fianna F_il, over a number of years but that organization has been effectively mothballed for over a decade now.
Nevertheless, the party has continued to raise money, more often than not at small private gatherings attended by top party figures including Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
One such event prompted a D_il tiff between Ahern and then Fine Gael leader John Bruton in 1999.
Bruton accused Ahern of mixing official state business with party fundraising during a visit to New York. Ahern rejected any suggestion of impropriety.
Other parties in the Republic, such as the Progressive Democrats, have dipped into the collective American wallet by accepting checks from sympathetic Irish-American business figures.
But it has been the North and its embattled political life that has continued to be the primary spur for Irish parties raising money on these shores.
At least three parties – all-Ireland Sinn F

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