Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein £1.5m donation: Executor of will's great niece calls on party to be transparent

Mairia Cahill
Mairia Cahill
Joe Cahill
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

The great niece of Joe Cahill - one of the executors of William E Hampton's will - has called on Sinn Fein to shed more light on the donation.

Mairia Cahill said that while the party's former national treasurer never mentioned Mr Hampton to her, she believes that he must have been well-known within Sinn Fein as a donation of that size would have raised eyebrows, especially as the will was written in 1997.

The former SDLP councillor has now called on Sinn Fein to provide more information on the 82-year-old.

"Is this just someone who popped up unannounced in a wee holiday caravan park and said he was a supporter of Sinn Fein who wanted to gift £1.5m?" she asked.

"First of all, I would imagine that if this came from someone he didn't know and someone said to my uncle Joe 'I want to leave you a significant asset', he would have been very cagey because those around him, I imagine, would have said that it could be a set-up.

"It stands to reason that you had to trust him absolutely in order to agree to take this gift from him.

"He must have been known extremely well, and the party has known for years that this man's assets were left to them so it wouldn't have been a surprise."

Ms Cahill added that the public will naturally be curious about the source of the largest ever known donation gifted to a party in Northern Ireland but insisted that the scrutiny is well warranted.

"Sinn Fein have a bit more knowledge about this individual," she continued.

"They are saying he's from a wealthy family, well let's stand that up.

"I think public curiosity is one thing but when it comes to political donations, and this is the largest one we know of in the history of donations being declared, there has to be a level of scrutiny around it.

"If there is a question of wrongdoing, and I'm not saying there is, there are relevant agencies which investigate how people acquire wealth.

"Sinn Fein needs to be coming out in more detail about how this man acquired this money and when he acquired it."

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