Northern Ireland news

Sinn Féin insists all its MLAs make voluntary donation to party

Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O'Neill, centre, with party colleagues at Stormont in Belfast
Brendan Hughes

SINN Féin has insisted all its assembly members make a voluntary donation to the party after it emerged no payments were recorded for half of its MLAs during the second half of 2017.

The party has previously said that 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 shows that only 14 of its 27 MLAs made donations to the party in the latter half of last year – and payments varied among those who did.

Sinn Féin vice-president 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.

Asked about the figures, Sinn Féin earlier this week said: "Our elected representatives donate different amounts at different times of the year."

The party declined to give a full breakdown of its MLAs' donations for the first half of 2017, which is not covered by the Electoral Commission statistics.

But in a further statement yesterday, a party spokesman said: "All Sinn Féin MLAs make a voluntary donation to the party and accept the recommended wage of £28,480 before tax.

"A number of our MLAs including Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and Michelle O'Neill had already donated more than the reporting threshold of £7,500 by the end of June.

"The variations are due to the fact that donations are voluntary and our elected representatives donate different amounts at different times over the course of the year."

MLAs currently receive a salary of £49,500, but Sinn Féin said its MLAs accept a take-home pay of £22,440 after tax.

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.

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