Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein deny Trump donated to party despite fundraiser appearance

By Cate McCurry

Questions have been raised again in the Republic over whether US President Donald Trump supported Sinn Fein after his attendance at a 1995 fundraiser for the party.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin was calling President Trump's knowledge about Ireland into question in the Dail.

The Journal.ie reported Mr Martin as saying: "President Trump's knowledge of Ireland remains roughly on a par with that when he was welcomed to a Sinn Fein fundraiser by Deputy Gerry Adams."

Mr Martin was referring to an event at the Essex House hotel in Manhattan in 1995, months before the IRA broke its ceasefire by bombing London's Canary Wharf.

During the event, Mr Adams joked about playing "the Trump card" and the remark was received with warm applause.

Mr Trump rose from his seat and the pair shook hands.

Archive video footage of the meeting resurfaced in 2015, when critics of President Trump's proposed travel ban on Muslims entering the US - which he justified as an anti-terrorism measure - accused him of being hypocritical.

On Wednesday, a Sinn Fein spokesperson told the Belfast Telegraph that Mr Trump had attended the event "as a guest of someone else" and did not make a donation to the party". The spokesperson added: "He has not attended any subsequent events and has never donated money to Sinn Fein."

Meanwhile, a number of MPs have called on Northern Ireland Secretary of State to exercise his powers to reveal the identity of the secret Brexit donors who helped fund the DUP's Leave campaign.

A Scottish MP wrote to James Brokenshire to highlight current legislation the UK Government could use to publish all political donors since December 2014.

It comes almost a week after Mr Brokenshire said details of future donations are to be published, however, backdated donations will not be affected.

The Conservative minister said the new transparency rules will apply to donations made after July 1, 2017.

It comes after revelations of a £425,000 donation to the DUP to fund a Vote Leave advertisement in a UK national newspaper.

In the letter, which was seen by openDemocracy - a political website - SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes said that the public should know who funded the DUP's Brexit campaign.

He said that the Secretary of State has the power to publish all political donations since January 2014, under existing legislation.

The letter from the West Dunbartonshire MP stated that it is "not clear" why any new legislation is needed.

"As Secretary of State, you already have the power to introduce donor transparency into Northern Ireland, and can do so presently, without the need for any new legislation," he wrote.

"There are serious concerns, in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, that the UK Government's recent political deal with the DUP contributed to your decision to refuse the public access to information on the source of the DUP's record Brexit funding.

"In light of these facts, I would call on you as Secretary of State to enforce the laws that already exist, and to ensure that the public know who funded the DUP's Brexit campaign - good governance demands it."

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