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Sinn Fein backer in US gives $12k to Republican Party

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Sinn Fein leaders Michelle O’Neill and Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Fein leaders Michelle O’Neill and Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Fein leaders Michelle O’Neill and Mary Lou McDonald

A Co Tyrone-born Sinn Fein supporter in the US has donated thousands of dollars to Donald Trump's Republican Party.

Mary Lou McDonald has been highly critical of Mr Trump, but one of Sinn Fein's biggest Irish-American backers, retired construction tycoon Patrick Donaghy, has donated more than $12,000 (£9,180) to the Republican Party since Trump took office.

Records also show he gave $1,000 (£770) to one of Mr Trump's staunchest defenders, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, last year.

Mr Donaghy and companies associated with him have contributed more than $250,000 (£191,000) to Sinn Fein over the last 25 years.

Last year he donated $5,000 (£3,830) to the party's US fundraising arm, Friends of Sinn Fein, as did the building giant he co-founded, Structure Tone.

Ms McDonald was due to travel to Washington this week for St Patrick's Day festivities but due to the closure of her children's school as a result of a coronavirus case, Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill will go instead.

Sinn Fein fundraising events include a $500-a-plate annual fundraising dinner in New York each November.

Latest figures filed with US authorities show Friends of Sinn Fein got almost $380,000 (£290,800) in donations in the 12 months up to the end of October 2019.

It had expenses of almost $421,900 (£322,110) in the same period, much of it spent on fundraising costs.

Funds raised in the US cannot be used by the party in the Republic but donations of less than £500 can be used in Northern Ireland.

Mr Donaghy emigrated to the US more than 60 years ago. US records show he has donated $54,600 to the Republican Party - including to figures such as former President George W Bush - since the late 1980s.

He gave around $13,000 to Democrats, including Hillary Clinton and the late Ted Kennedy, in same period.

Last night Friends of Sinn Fein president Mark Guilfoyle said his organisation "and the cause of Irish unity draws support from across the political spectrum". He said it operates under US law and discloses details of its accounts to the authorities every six months.

In relation to income and expenses, Mr Guilfoyle said the organisation "remains in a financially strong position" due to the support it receives.

Belfast Telegraph