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Mary Lou McDonald says Englishman who left €1.7m to Sinn Féin was a ‘rebel with a cause’

The man left the money to Sinn Féin in his will.

McDonald said the donation was a clear statement against the political establishment.
McDonald said the donation was a clear statement against the political establishment.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

THE 82-YEAR-OLD MAN who left £1.5m (€1.7m) to Sinn Féin in his will was probably a ”rebel with a cause”, Mary Lou McDonald has said.

The Englishman, Billy Hampton, who died in Pembrokeshire in Wales, left the money to the party, in what is understood to be the largest ever known donation to a Northern Ireland political party.

Sinn Féin has said it has complied with all Electoral Commission rules and regulations, a point reiterated by McDonald today at the Sinn Fein away day in Louth.

However, speculation is rife about why Hampton left the money to Sinn Féin, with some reports stating that it was to hit back at the British establishment.  

Speaking about the donation to her party, McDonald said the money “will be spent in accordance with all the rules and all of the regulations”.

McDonald said she did not know Hampton, and therefore cannot speak as to why he left such a large sum of money to her party.

However, she added: 

“But judging from what I’ve heard from people who did know him, he considered this to be a very robust statement against the political establishment. So he obviously saw in Sinn Féin, I can only surmise, an organisation that is foursquare for Irish unity, for progress in Ireland, for peace in Ireland. But also a party that stands foursquare against the political establishment so I can only say I think Billy was probably a rebel.”

She added: “He clearly shared our cause.”

Speaking on the BBC’s Talkback programme recently, Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O’Neill said she also had never met Hampton but welcomed his donation.

O’Neill said it would “help the party to build and lead the challenge towards a new and agreed Ireland”.

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