By Ray O’Hanlon and Susan Falvella Garraty
Washington D.C. — Sinn FTin is closing its Washington, D.C. office and is heading for Wall Street, a stone’s throw from the terror-blitzed World Trade Centre.
But the party’s financial health might go the way of the stock markets if the IRA continues to balk at decommissioning, White House officials have indicated.
The party has had a presence on Capitol Hill since the early days of the current peace process but has now set its sights on lower Manhattan, even as some corporations are looking to quit the area in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.
In a brief statement, Friends of Sinn FTin, the U.S. fund-raising arm of the party, said that the Sinn FTin “administrative offices” would be consolidated as of yesterday, Oct. 17.
The statement said that Rita O’Hare, the party’s U.S. representative, would continue to act for the party in D.C. as well as New York.
Follow us on social media
Keep up to date with the latest news with The Irish Echo
The party’s new Wall Street office will be shared with that of Friends of Sinn FTin president and lawyer Larry Downes.
While placing the Sinn FTin office in Washington brought the party to the doorstep of American political power, the party’s fund-raising efforts in the U.S. have long been coordinated from New York.
The city is also the single largest source of money for Sinn FTin’s political activities in Ireland. FOSF has raised more than $5 million in the U.S. since 1995.
That fund-raising ability, however, has appeared more tenuous in recent months, especially in the wake of three Irish nationals with alleged links to the IRA being arrested in Colombia.
In recent days, the White House has indicated that it expects the IRA to put arms beyond use in a short time or watch its political wing, Sinn FTin, face financial consequences.
President Bush’s “war against terrorism in general” includes the IRA, a senior White House official said after the president’s press conference in the White House East Room last week.
“When he said ‘everywhere’ — that means all over the globe,” said the official when asked if Sinn FTin’s ability to raise funds in the United States was in jeopardy.
Several White House officials confirmed to the New York-based Irish Echo that Bush and his staff are developing a “get-tough” approach to the IRA. They have asked to be kept apprised of the possibility of any imminent IRA concession on weapons decommissioning.
Friends of Sinn FTin, meanwhile, is working on its annual fundraising dinner in New York which is set for Nov. 1.
Top party leaders including Gerry Adams are expected at the Manhattan event, the proceeds of which will go not to the party, but to a relief fund for New York construction workers killed and injured in the Trade Centre disaster.