Time to close Sinn Fein's dark money loophole

DUP Foyle MLA Gary Middleton has called Sinn Fein smoked salmon socialists after their latest champagne fuelled golf fundraiser in the United States.

By Gary Middleton Candidate

Foyle

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Mr Middleton said,

“Sinn Fein claim to be socialists yet they love the $1,000 plated dinners, private healthcare and business-class flights. $200,000 fundraisers are a far cry from the serious deprivation in the communities which SF has poorly represented for decades.

Behind the fake socialism though there is also a serious issue about transparency and the need for Northern Ireland's political donation laws to be brought into line with the rest of the United Kingdom.

Money raised in America cannot be used for political activity in either the Republic of Ireland or in the rest of the United Kingdom therefore, Northern Ireland stands alone as the only place where Sinn Fein's foreign dark money can be used to influence political outcomes.

This is not new, but the influence of this money has been felt for many years. Nearly $20,000 was donated to Sinn Fein’s 2017 Assembly election campaign from the United States. This represented nearly one third of Sinn Fein’s spending in that election. The former president of Friends of Sinn Fein boasted of “paying the bill” when it came to Sinn Fein offices, phones, computers and transport. The public deserve to know exactly where this latest dark money will be spent.

Action was taken in the Republic of Ireland to prevent Sinn Fein from tilting the playing field in their favour, whether through elitist golf tournaments or any other foreign source. Given the focus in recent years about foreign interference in elections, it is shameful that this not only remains possible in Northern Ireland, but is actually facilitated by the law here."

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