Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has defended discussions he has held with US business leaders after his party received millions of euro in party funding from America.
Mr Adams made his remarks as the party opened its 2015 ard fheis in Derry last night, ahead of debating a range of motions this weekend from abortion to a united Ireland, taxation and election pacts.
Mr Adams said he had met and invited business people here from the US and Britain over the years.
“We get support from Irish America and that’s really really important.” He added that “the scrutiny of our transparent accounts has shown beyond anybody else that Sinn Féin enjoys the support of the Irish diaspora in the US of America [sic].”
His comments come after the Irish Times this week reported that the party had pulled in $12m (€11m) from American big business, Hollywood stars and trade unions among others over the last two decades.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars every year are raised by Friends of Sinn Féin USA.
Mr Adams added: “We’re very good for business, we’re very pro-business. We can’t be getting support from US businesses on the one hand and then be bad for business on the other. That’s an oxymoron if you don’t mind me saying so.”
Mr Adams also said US unions were brought to Ireland for talks with Sinn Féin.
During his speech to a packed hall, the North’s deputy first minister Martin McGuinness defended the recent deal for Stormont done with London. This resulted in welfare payments to citizens remaining, he said.
He said ‘Tory cuts’ were beyond Sinn Féin’s control.
He warned that the alternative if the executive in the North had collapsed would have been the rule of the British Tories and the “imposition of Thatcherite policies” on people.
Mr McGuinness said the referendum on marriage equality in May in the south would show how far the island had moved on.
He said Sinn Féin was proud to say it stood against sectarianism as well as homophobia. He also said it was the goal of Sinn Féin to become the biggest part in the North and South in 2016.
Earlier, the party heard calls for deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald to be the first female Taoiseach.
One delegate also predicted that Mr Adams would go on to be the president of Ireland in 2018.
Sinn Féin delegates also rejected a motion last night which would have opposed lowering corporation tax in the North.
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