By Ray O’Hanlon
Sinn Féin has reacted furiously to a proposal by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to curb foreign fund-raising by Irish political parties.
The curb is part of a plan to end corruption in Irish politics but is being seen by Sinn Fein as an attack on its fund-raising success in the U.S.
The party has raised roughly $4.5 million in the U.S. since March 1995.
"It’s outrageous and sour grapes from Fianna Fáil," said New York-based Larry Downes, president of Friends of Sinn Fein.
"It’s another form of censorship against Sinn Féin. The fact that it is built into a document about corruption is particularly galling. Sinn Féin’s money is cleaner than any political money in Ireland."
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Rita O’Hare, the party’s epresentative in Washington, D.C., called the proposal as disgraceful.
"To insinuate any sleaze or corruption on the part of anyone in the U.S. who has given money to FOSF is spurious," she said.
"I’m surprised at Bertie Ahern. Donations to Sinn Féin in the U.S. have been above board and in support of the peace process."
Ahern said in a statement that there was little purpose in seeking control over politcal donations in Ireland "if huge sums can be moved into the state from abroad in circumstances where control and transparency is impossible or very difficult."
Friends of Sinn Féin is required to report all donations of $50 or more to the U.S. Justice Department every six months.