[Sinn Fein]

4 December 2000

Government proposals on party funding ``deeply flawed''

Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said that the inclusion of proposals to seek the banning of political donations from outside the 26 Counties meant that the package of measures announced by the Taoiseach was ``deeply flawed''. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``Speaking on RTÉ radio today An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern suggested that the President of Sinn Fein Gerry Adams had not been following the debate on party funding in this jurisdiction. As someone who was directly involved in the debate and who fully briefed my party on it I share Gerry Adams' anger at the government's approach and his view that the attempted restriction of donations >from outside this State is a piece of political opportunism aimed at SinnFein.

``Proposals to restrict donations to registered voters in the 26 Counties were contained in the Labour Party Bill which was debated in the Dáil in May. At that time I supported a government amendment on the basis that there would be a process of consultation with all the parties, including Sinn Fein, on the issue of donations to political parties. No such process of consultation has taken place.

``As I stated in the Dáil I am in favour of ending corporate donations to political parties. While the Taoiseach's statement contains no proposal to end corporate donations - companies are to be allowed to give up to 20,000 in one year to a political party - it does propose banning donations from outside the State, no matter how small. This discriminates against Irish citizens and is specifically aimed at Sinn Fein, the only All-Ireland party. Despite such moves I am confident that the growth in support for Sinn Fein will continue unabated.''

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