Mice try — Sinn Féin’s squeaky clean fundraiser

IT was a minute before race night, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring — not even a mouse. Then all hell broke loose.

Forget the chicken suppers and church gate collections. Sinn Féin has come up with the ultimate in political party fundraising and it's squeaky clean.

The race card at McCarthy's Bar, in Timoleague, Co Cork, on Friday night gave away the first clue. The front featured two cartoon mice called Martin and Gerry. "Looks like we're going on the run again, Gerry," says Martin. "All part of the struggle," replies Gerry.

Then, to the patriotic sound of the Wolfe Tones, the furry creatures were introduced for the first of eight mice races.

Against the odds, The Price of Freedom won the first race with a blistering turn of speed, leaving Sean South, Northern Lad and Freedom Flyer in his wake.

Galloping Maggie didn't show Iron Lady-form in the third. In fact, she proved reluctant to come out of her trap, with Snapps making the finishing line with plenty to spare.

RTÉ's Pat Kenny was the race night's only victim with a live video link of the fun-fundraiser forcing the star off the airwaves.

The extravaganza was organised by the party to raise funds for two members contesting the local elections in June.

Chief organiser Cllr Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin said the party locally had become bored with raffles and wanted to try something different.

"We were tapping the same people with raffles and it was becoming a bit monotonous. I'm sure some of those who attended the event wouldn't have been hardcore Sinn Féin supporters. A lot of people there were simply enjoying the craic," Cllr Ó Súilleabháin said.

He confirmed the party will hold three or four more mouse-racing fundraisers before June, but remained tight-lipped about how much they'd raised from the eight races on Friday's card. "Let's just say we're happy with it," he said.

However, even the best laid plans of mice and men could soon be scrapped, with Sinn Féin considering toying with the idea of also introducing frog racing.

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