Northern Ireland news

Sinn Féin says reps donate 'different amounts at different times of the year'

Sinn Féin's Declan Kearney, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, Michelle O'Neill, Gerry Kelly and Carál Ní Chuilín, and the amounts each donated to their party in the latter half of 2017
Brendan Hughes

SINN Féin has said its elected reps donate to the party "different amounts at different times of the year" after it emerged no donations were recorded for half of its MLAs.

The party has previously insisted all its MLAs accept a recommended party wage of £28,480 before tax and donate the rest of their salaries to Sinn Féin.

But political donations data officially released for the first time shows just 14 of its 27 MLAs made donations to the party in the latter half of last year.

And the amounts donated varied considerably among those Sinn Féin assembly members who did make payments to the party.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O'Neill made the smallest donation at £3,300 over the six-month period, followed by former finance minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir at £5,720.

The largest donations were £34,755 from the party's northern MEP Martina Anderson and £12,235 from MLA Declan Kearney.

Political party donations in Northern Ireland between July and December 2017 were published on Monday by the Electoral Commission following new legislation.

Nine parties registered in the north reported accepted £832,489 in donations and public funds.

Sinn Féin received the most at more than £331,000 followed by the DUP with over £290,000.

According to the Electoral Commission website, there is no cap on the amount a permissible donor can give to a political party.

The rules require parties to report all donations and borrowing of more than £7,500 relating to the central party, or over £1,500 relating to an 'accounting unit' of the party.

For years Sinn Féin had maintained that all its elected representatives accept an 'average industrial wage' with the rest donated to Sinn Féin and constituency matters.

But earlier this year the party said its average wage policy is "entirely voluntary".

It came after it emerged that Dublin TD Dessie Ellis has been allowed his entire Dáil salary since 2011.

At the time, Sinn Féin said the party reviewed its wage structure in 2016 and it recommended a rate for TDs, which is currently €39,000.

It said the party "does not oversee the implementation of this recommendation as it is not mandatory".

But it said all 27 MLAs "make a voluntary donation which is the equivalent of the net balance of their assembly salary after they take the recommended party wage".

"MPs are not paid a salary by Westminster and receive the same party wage as the MLAs," it added.

MLAs currently receive a salary of £49,500.

Asked about the donations figures yesterday, a Sinn Féin spokesman said: "All Sinn Féin MLAs make a voluntary donation to the party and accept the recommended wage of £28,480 before tax.

"Our elected representatives donate different amounts at different times of the year."


Sinn Féin donations received from party representatives

  • Martina Anderson (MEP) – £34,755
  • Declan Kearney (South Antrim MLA) – £12,235
  • Carál Ní Chuilín (North Belfast MLA) – £11,800
  • Fra McCann (West Belfast MLA) – £11,800
  • Cathal Boylan (Newry and Armagh MLA) – £11,389
  • Gerry Kelly (North Belfast MLA) – £10,511
  • Conor Murphy (Newry and Armagh MLA) – £10,189
  • Philip McGuigan (North Antrim MLA) – £10,063
  • Linda Dillon (Mid Ulster MLA) – £9,990
  • Michaela Boyle (West Tyrone MLA) – £9,944
  • Declan McAleer (West Tyrone MLA) – £9,587
  • Raymond McCartney (Foyle MLA) – £8,090
  • Alex Maskey (West Belfast MLA) – £8,006
  • Máirtín Ó Muilleoir (South Belfast MLA) – £5,720
  • Michelle O'Neill (Mid Ulster MLA) – £3,300
  • (Figures from Electoral Commission for July to December 2017)

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