By Ray O’Hanlon
Fund-raising in the U.S. by Sinn FTin and all other Irish political parties for political activities in the Republic of Ireland is now subject to new limits on individual and group donations.
The Electoral Amendment Act, which was drawn up last year and came into effect on Jan. 1, imposes new restrictions on fund-raising by D_il members, candidates, political parties and third parties — such as Friends of Sinn FTin — in countries outside Ireland.
Donations under the new rules are limited to the euro 2,539.40 for an individual and euro 6,348.50 for political or third parties.
According to the new legislation, no donation of whatever value may be accepted (for use in Ireland) that is given by an individual who lives outside the Republic, other than an Irish citizen, or by a company other than one which has an office in Ireland.
Passage of legislation stirred little comment until now. The St. Patrick’s Day period in the U.S. has been a prime fund-raising opportunity for Friends of Sinn FTin, which has collected between $5.5-$6 million from U.S. supporters since 1995.
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FOSF is planning a number of fund-raisers this year with top Sinn FTin party leaders making appearances in almost 20 U.S. and Canadian cities.
In the long run, FOSF will have to distinguish and separate money collected in the U.S. from Irish and non-Irish citizens.
In the short term, it is understood that money collected during the upcoming tours by the likes of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness will be used for Sinn FTin’s political activities in the North.
All parties in the Six Counties currently enjoy a three-year exemption from revised British government fund-raising legislation that resembles the more recent Irish government move.