Sinn Féin says all of record £4 million donation will be spent in the north
SINN Féin has insisted that all funds donated to the party by the late English millionaire William Hampton will be spent north of the border.
The eccentric engineer, who died in January 2018, bequeathed Sinn Féin a record £4 million – the largest donation every made to an Irish political party.
Fine Gael has called for the authorities in the Republic to be given new powers that would enable a crackdown on what it claims is Sinn Féin’s exploitation of a loophole on political donations.
Senator Barry Ward is seeking to bring in legislation that would target what he termed is Sinn Féin’s use of “lax” regulations in Northern Ireland to accept “massive” donations.
Among provisions in Mr Ward’s proposed legislation is a requirement that political parties would have to make an annual declaration that they aren’t spending funds raised in other jurisdictions here, the Irish Independent reported.
The Fine Gael senator raised concerns about Mr Hampton's donation in the context of regulations in the south that forbids donation of any value from someone who lives outside of the island of Ireland, unless they are an Irish citizen.
Permitted donations are capped at €2,500 in any one calendar year.
Mr Ward said the donation by Mr Hampton shows “a massive loophole in Irish electoral law where unlimited donations can be received through a party’s Northern Ireland operation”.
He is seeking amendments to legislation that would require all parties contesting elections in the Republic to "comply with Irish laws on ethics, political donations, and corruption, regardless of where they are operating”.
He suggested that Sinn Féin should only take €2,500 from the donation by Mr Hampton and return the rest to his estate.
A Sinn Féin spokesman told the paper the party met all its legal requirements and was lawfully obliged to register as a political party in both jurisdictions and to comply with relevant legislation.
"We are in full compliance with the requirements of the Electoral Commission in the north and the Standards in Public Office Commission in the south have confirmed to us that this matter is closed," the party spokesman said, stressing that Mr Hampton's donation would only be spent north of the border.