3 December 2000
Government plans smack of political opportunism
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP has responded angrily to the Taoiseach's proposals on foreign fund-raising which he said ``smacked of political opportunism and were a blatant but futile attempt to halt the rise of Sinn Fein.''
Mr. Adams said that he was ``angry and dismayed that during the course of a series of meetings with senior government officials in recent days including Saturday, on matters relating to the current political crisis, none of them had the courtesy to give me notice of these proposals. I was only informed on Sunday afternoon when I received a copy of the Government press statement. I feel personally insulted that these anti-Sinn Fein proposals should be introduced under the guise of dealing with corruption in public life.''
Mr. Adams said:
``While Sinn Fein welcomes aspects of the proposed anti-corruption plans the proposals on foreign fund-raising smack of political opportunism from two government parties running scared of the increasing support enjoyed by Sinn Fein.
``Sinn Fein have spoken out strongly against the corruption which has permeated political and business life in Ireland for decades. It is a scandal that parties have been bankrolled by banks and other financial institutions and big business. Such a relationship has not just bought individual votes in council chambers; it has ensured government policies which favour big business above all else with banks free to fleece their customers and with the lowest corporation tax in Europe.
``But attempts to link this issue to that of foreign fund-raising has nothing to do with the Taoiseach's stated concern for an even playing pitch in Irish politics. It has all to do with the growth of Sinn Fein.
``The effect of the Taoiseach's plan would be to set back efforts to create an even playing pitch in Irish politics and is entirely at odds with the all Ireland dimension of the Good Friday Agreement. ``It would disenfranchise Irish emigrants and members of the Irish diaspora around the world as well as Irish citizens in the Six Counties. Am I as a President of Sinn Fein who happens to reside in Belfast now to be prohibited from donating to my own party?
``The Taoiseach states that control and transparency of political donations >from abroad would be impossible. The very opposite is the case. The Friends of Sinn Fein organisation in the USA have shown how this can be achieved. They file a record of all monies collected, the names and addresses of each donation of 50 dollars or more, and an account of all expenditures, including amounts remitted to Ireland recorded with the US Justice Department every six months.
``The government's proposal would deny Irish emigrants - already denied the opportunity to vote - and members of the Irish diaspora in the United States the right to contribute to the political party of their choice. While this would effect other parties, for example the SDLP, it is clearly aimed at Sinn Fein. That the government is studying whether ring-fencing Irish political fund-raising will include arrangements with the British government is particularly reprehensible.
``Sinn Fein are committed to bringing about fundamental social and economic change in Ireland. We are not involved in politics for economic or personal gain. Indeed within our own party we operate on an egalitarian basis - all of our elected representatives - MPs, TD, Ministers and Assembly members receive the same subsidy and donate the remainder of their salary to the party.
``The government talk a lot about the need to encourage the participation of the Irish Diaspora in the political, economic and social life of the Irish nation. These proposals are entirely at odds with such an objective.
``I feel personally insulted that these anti Sinn Fein proposals should be introduced under the guise of dealing with corruption in public life.''
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