Sinn Fein has dismissed weekend reports that the party is experiencing a cash crisis on the run-in to Friday’s vote on the Lisbon Treaty in the Republic.
Last night a spokesman said: “It’s true that we don’t have a bottomless pit of money and that we have to prioritise. There are three elections coming up in the North over the next 18 months, and we may have to gear up for one in the south. It’s a matter of planning ahead and applying resources accordingly.”
The spokesman also dismissed claims that the party was riven with divisions over its stance on Lisbon, with reports claiming that northern politicians wanted a Yes response in the 26-county plebiscite, against the party’s official No policy, determined in Dublin.
“We’ve been doing our bit on the No campaign trail,” said the spokesman. “Our posters are prominent in all of the 26 counties, letters have gone to every voter and we had a major rally in Co Clare at the weekend.
“Our main resources, though, are being retained for elections — especially in the North where there will be Westminster, Assembly and super council polls between now and 2011.”
The weekend reports claims that SF had spent “a massive amount of money” in the 2007 elections in the Republic with poor returns — just four TDs — and they had invested heavily in the Lisbon referendum in June last year, when the 26 counties returned a No vote.
They added that things were so tight that paid staff were being replaced by volunteers, that the party had run itself into debt and had loans to pay off, and had lost heavily in stocks and shares.
The spokesman said: “No party has infinite funds and we are no different. And with the prospect of four elections, it is a case of prioritising our funds.”
It is, however, felt there is a North-South split over Lisbon. Stormont’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness is believed to favour a Yes vote, as he is acutely aware that EU funding is vital for the North’s economy.
However, the SF strategy is |masterminded mainly from Dublin and the official line is No to Lisbon.
Friday’s voting is expected to be tight — the No voters won last year by 53% to 47% and forecasts indicate that trend could be reversed this time.