By Ray O’Hanlon
Fund-raising on behalf of Sinn FTin in the United States has almost reached the $5 million mark.
But the party is this week going to court against the British government because it has been denied part of a _2 million payout aimed at helping parties in Britain and Northern Ireland to develop policies by means of research, publication of manifestos and use of information technology.
All the main British parties, including the governing Labor Party, have secured a portion of the grant total.
In addition, both the Scottish Nationalist Party and the Welsh nationalist party, Plaid Cymru, are to receive money.
In the North, the two main unionist parties, the UUP and DUP, are to receive money as will the nationalist SDLP.
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The three parties will each receive _133,921.
A party must have at least two MPs “sitting in the House of Commons” in order to qualify for aid, a statement from the Electoral Commission said.
The DUP has four MPs at Westminster, the UUP seven and the SDLP three.
The problem for Sinn FTin is that its four MPs are not “sitting” in the Commons, this because they refuse to take the Oath of Allegiance to the queen.
As such, any court action taken by Sinn FTin in the context of failing to secure its share of the Electoral Commission pie could well turn into being a test case for the continuance of the oath as much as an effort to secure a check in the queen’s currency.
Meanwhile, Sinn FTin’s fortunes in the U.S. continue to rise.
The Friends of Sinn FTin fund-raising group is about to file its returns to the U.S. Justice Department for the six-month period covering November 2001 to the end of April this year.
In that period, FOSF raised $266,000 for the party. The group raised a far larger sum, $525,000, at a November dinner in New York at which the guest of honor was Sinn FTin president Gerry Adams.
But that money was raised not for Sinn FTin, but for a relief fund operated by the city’s construction industry in the wake of Sept. 11.
Since April 30, the final day of the November-April reporting period, FOSF has raised an additional $66,000.
This sum will be including in the final figures supplied by FOSF to the government for the April-October 2002 filing period, according to FOSF president Larry Downes.
Since it began fund-raising in the U.S. in the spring of 1995, FOSF has raised just under $4.9 million for Sinn FTin’s political activities in Ireland.
That $4.9 million figure will likely be breached in the next couple of weeks with the visit to Boston and New York of newly elected D_il member Martin Ferris.
Ferris will be presiding at FOSF fund-raisers in both cities.
One of those fund-raisers, a so-called “Victory Cruise” around Boston Harbor drew criticism last week from the Ulster Unionist Party’s representative in North America, Anne Smyth.
Smyth was annoyed because of Ferris’s connection to the 1984 Valhalla/Marita Ann IRA gun-running incident, which resulted in the newly minted TD for North Kerry serving 10 years in prison for his part in the plot.
Smyth told the Belfast Telegraph that, to her knowledge, Ferris had never expressed remorse for the actions of the IRA or for the “great harm” he had intended to inflict upon the people of Northern Ireland with the guns smuggled out of Massachusetts on the Valhalla.
FOSF president Downes indicated that the events of 1984 had not entered into the planning for the Ferris cruise.
The primary reason behind the cruise, Downes said, was the success of a similar cruise around San Francisco Bay earlier this year that had party president Gerry Adams presiding at a fund-raiser aboard the old FDR yacht “Poto