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Sinn Fein is Ireland's richest political party

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Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald with Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald with Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill

PA

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald with Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill

Sinn Fein is the richest political party on the island of Ireland with 200 staff and a network of more than 50 properties, it has been revealed.

The party's director of finance Des Mackin told The Irish Times Sinn Fein has experienced a surge in membership applications since the Irish general election in February and now expects to recruit more staff on the basis of increased representation in Leinster House.

Sinn Fein's finances will soon further improve as money continues to be released from the estate of the late William (Billy) Hampton, who gifted millions to the party after his death in a nursing home in Wales in January 2018.

It's thought the estate of the eccentric millionaire which benefited Sinn Fein to the tune of £2m is worth at least twice that amount after the discovery of leads involving more than two dozen bank accounts globally.

Money held in UK accounts has already been given to the party. Meanwhile, property in the UK and Ireland that formed part of the estate is being sold, while approximately €1m (£865k) is being released from an account in Singapore.

"That transfer should be done by the end of the month," Mr Mackin said. "The whole thing should be done by the end of the year."

Rules around political funding mean the money cannot be spent in the Republic but will boost Sinn Fein's financial position.

The executors of Mr Hampton's will were Mr Mackin and prominent Belfast republican Joe Cahill, both Sinn Fein national treasurers at the time.

As well as four headquarter buildings in Dublin and Belfast, local branches of the party own a further 50 or so properties used as constituency offices.

Mr Mackin said the party has received 4,200 membership applications and 500 applications to join its youth wing since the Irish general election was called - bringing total party membership to 15,000.

He said Sinn Fein is able to employ more staff for the party because its "activist ethos" means people are prepared to work for less.

Former party leader Gerry Adams is heading up a new unit within the party to ensure Sinn Fein remains focused on its ethos of achieving a united Ireland, he said.

"Everything should be thought of in terms of a united Ireland. It is important to ensure and promote the united Ireland vision, to make sure it goes right through and that all our policies are thought of in those terms," he said.

Belfast Telegraph