30 September 2005

Sinn Féin to appeal fundraising ban in US

Belfast Telegraph

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
30 September 2005

A BAN on Sinn Fein fundraising in the US remains in place despite the IRA's 'final' decommissioning, it emerged today.

The bar was imposed in March by the US State Department following the killing of Robert McCartney, and special envoy Mitchel Reiss is understood to have told Martin McGuinness this week that it remains in force.

Sinn Fein has made clear, however, that Mr McGuinness's visit this week was focused on dealing primarily with meetings following the IRA's actions rather than fundraising.

Now, however, Sinn Fein is expected to formally apply again for permission to raise funds ahead of a scheduled $$500-a-plate fund-raiser in New York next month organised by the Friends of Sinn Fein group.

It is unclear, however, whether the American authorities will feel minded to lift the ban before the next report of the Independent Monitoring Commission, due next month, which is expected to confirm IRA activity has ceased.

There could be a huge row if the State Department decides to wait for the second next Commission report, expected in January. The Manhattan dinner annually raises up to £400,000 for the party.

While the US remains a fundraising 'no-go' area, however, cash can still be raised in Canada. Mr McGuinness is to speak at a $$100-a-head dinner in Calgary, also organised by Friends of Sinn Fein, on Monday night. Today he was travelling to Seattle before heading on to San Francisco, San Diego and Phoenix over the weekend.

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