FIANNA FÁIL is €3.6 million in debt and is planning an “intensive” fundraising campaign to reduce it.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen presided over one such fundraiser at the races in Leopardstown yesterday.
Fianna Fáil senator Mary White said the event had been “very successful”, and had attracted about 650 party supporters.
She said a number of additional fundraising initiatives would take place in the coming weeks, such as the party’s annual “superdraw”.
Fianna Fáil’s public support is at historically low levels at present, which is expected to impact on the amount of money the party will raise.
The latest Red C poll, published in the Sunday Business Post, showed the party unchanged on 27%, seven points behind Fine Gael.
The principle cause of Fianna Fáil’s substantial debt is the number of election and referendum campaigns it has had to fund in recent years.
The 2007 general election was followed by the first Lisbon Treaty referendum in 2008 and by local and European elections, by-elections, and the second Lisbon referendum last year.
The Lisbon II campaign alone cost circa €450,000, a party source said.
“From time to time, the party funds its campaigns through bank loans, and pays them back,” he added. “Because of the frequency of campaigns, we are constantly fundraising.”
Although refusing to comment on the scale of the debt, as it was an “internal party matter”, he said “a pretty intensive” fundraising plan was in place to reduce it.
He also said he did not expect the party’s fundraising efforts to conflict with the demand of junior coalition partner the Greens to restrict corporate donations.
Green TD Paul Gogarty was quoted yesterday as saying that Fianna Fáil would need to “play ball” on the corporate donations issue or risk the coalition collapsing. “It would be a great one to go out on if they don’t play ball,” he told the Sunday Tribune.
But the Fianna Fáil source said the party would have no issue with the restriction of corporate donations, as the profile of its donors had changed. He said 75% of all donations to the party were now of an amount of €100 or less.
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