Government ministers want legislation, to be included in new ethics laws, stopping Sinn Féin from getting State funding as long as it is receiving “significant” foreign donations.
Eight ministers from across the Coalition told thethat parties who receive large amounts of donations and bequests from wills should not be in receipt of State funding.
Exchequer funding to political parties amounts to about €13.5m a year. It was put in place in the wake of various tribunals to end the culture of corrupt payments from wealthy individuals or companies.
Sinn Féin received State funding of €1.5m last year and over €1m in US donations in the year to November 2022 through Friends of Sinn Féin USA.
However, it last night said no monies from Friends of Sinn Féin comes to the party in the south and so what the ministers are seeking "makes no difference to us".
With new ethics legislation due for publication in the coming weeks, the ministers want State funding to be made available for parties who limit their fundraising to within the jurisdiction of the State.
Fine Gael European Affairs minister Peter Burke said: “Parties who receive significant funding from abroad should not be in receipt of State funding.
"Sinn Féin is the richest party in Ireland by a significant margin, with by far the most cash and property compared to all the other political parties, which raises questions.
"Any party that gets massive sums of money from the US and other territories needs to explain exactly who provided the money and to what ends. State funding should not be supplementing this cash."
Mr Burke said we have a transparent system in Ireland where donations over certain figures to politicians or candidates are banned.
“So why should taxpayers' money be used to supplement a party like Sinn Féin, which gets massive donations from abroad with absolutely no transparency or confirmation where or from whom this money is coming?”
Fianna Fáil education minister Niall Collins, who is also his party’s treasurer, said parties in receipt of income from outside the jurisdiction should have to be fully accountable to the Standards in Public Office.
“The public has a right to know where the money is coming from,” he told the.
However, a number of other ministers said the major parties should not be blocking Sinn Féin’s foreign fundraising but instead following their example.
One Fianna Fáil minister said: “I have been to the US a lot and supporters of Ireland will regularly say they donate to Sinn Féin because they are the only show in town. They would back Fianna Fáil if we did it and I think we should do it.”
Over several decades, dating back before the Peace Process in the 1990s, the US has been the source of significant funding for Sinn Féin.
According to the latest available figures, nine political parties and multiple independent TDs received exchequer funding totalling just over €13.4m in 2021.
The qualified parties were Aontú, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Green Party, Independents 4 Change, Labour Party, People Before Profit/Solidarity, Sinn Féin, and Social Democrats.
As the largest party in the last election, Fianna Fáil received €1,427,140 in 2021, of which it spent €943,986 in that year.
Sinn Féin received €1,565,044, spending €1,091,040, while Fine Gael was given €1,350,251 and spent €1,106,975.