Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating held a meeting with Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris at his Sydney office last month.
Mr Ferris, a TD for Kerry north-west Limerick, visited Australia between July 26 and August 1 to speak in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne.
Sinn Féin’s supporters in Australia, Friends of Sinn Féin Australia and the Casement Support Group Melbourne, organised the three talks entitled ‘Irish Unity’.
The visit was also supported by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the Socialist Alliance.
Speaking by phone on the day of his departure from Australia, Mr Ferris told the Irish Echo the purpose of his visit to Australia was “in relation to promoting the concept of a new Republic for the island of Ireland”.
Mr Ferris said the visit commemorated 30 years since the 1981 hunger strikes and was an opportunity to brief people in Australia about the economic situation in Ireland.
The Republican party, which won 14 seats in February’s general election, has held conferences in Britain, the United States of America and Canada in the last two years.
Mr Ferris and Mr Keating met on Thursday, July 28, and discussed the ongoing peace process in Northern Ireland.
Mr Ferris said: “It was a courtesy call in relation to our appreciation for his commitment during the Irish peace process and the role that he played in it, which was quite effective.
“And I was there to update on him the situation in Ireland and give him an understanding of the peace process as it has now evolved.”
Mr Keating’s spokesperson said it was a private meeting and he had no comment.
Mr Ferris also met Federal Justice Minister Brendan O’Connor for a coffee on Saturday, July 30.
Mr Ferris described this as an ‘informal’ 15-minute meeting, which occurred solely because Mr O’Connor has family connections in Co. Kerry.
Mr O’Connor’s portfolio covers customs and border protection, counter-terrorism policy and operations, and privacy, law and justice matters.
The minister’s spokesperson said it was a private meeting and while he was happy for Mr Ferris to discuss it, he did not wish to comment on what was spoken about.
Assistant National Secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) Michael O’Connor met Mr Ferris while he was in Melbourne.
During his stay in Sydney, Mr Ferris and Denis O’Flynn of the Irish National Association (INA) visited the Michael Dwyer monument in Waverley Cemetary in the Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
It is the world’s largest memorial to the Irish rebellion of 1798. Mr Ferris was convicted for IRA membership in 1976 and 1977.
He was also imprisoned for 10 years in 1984, after the Irish Navy intercepted an arms shipment aboard the Marita Ann trawler while Mr Ferris was on board.
He is currently Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on communications, energy and natural resources.