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Monday, 27 November, 2000, 12:56 GMT
Tories fight Sinn Fein foreign donations

Tory lords oppose foreign funds for NI parties
Conservative peers have said they will oppose parts of a government Bill which would allow Sinn Fein to continue to receive foreign donations.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, shadow deputy leader of the House of Lords has said the contentious Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Bill contains proposals are "yet more dreadful concessions from this Labour Government to the men of violence".

He said the anti-sleaze Neill Committee recommended that the foreign funding of political parties and referendums throughout the UK should be stopped.

He said that a ban on foreign funding should apply to all parties in the UK and also Northern Ireland.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster he said: "Everyone knows that Sinn Fein would be the party that would most benefit otherwise".

Dissident threat

Lord Mackay said he feared allowing Northern Ireland parties to continue receiving overseas funding would help the political allies of hard-line republican dissident groups, which have not called cease-fires, to raise funds abroad.

He added: "Labour have deliberately ignored the committee's recommendation.

"The Bill will allow Sinn Fein-IRA and other republican groups to continue to receive money from anywhere in the world - including from republican sympathisers in North America," he said.

"Labour have already been warned that front organisations for the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA plan to use foreign cash from the US to back candidates at the general election next year. But they will not change their plans.

"Labour have also admitted they will allow these republican groups to use foreign money to campaign in any future referendum on the constitutional status of Northern Ireland.

"Conservatives will fight Labour's proposals in Parliament," he added.

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20 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
'Split' on thwarting Real IRA
26 Nov 00 | Northern Ireland
Trimble praises Omagh families' protest
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