Northern Ireland news

Sinn Féin says MP John Finucane no longer working full-time at law firm

Sinn Féin MP John Finucane with party leader Mary Lou McDonald. Picture by Mal McCann
Brendan Hughes

SINN Féin has said its MP John Finucane is no longer working full-time for his law firm.

Questions were raised after the North Belfast MP recorded on his register of interests that he was working 40 hours a week for Finucane Toner.

The prominent solicitor remained a director of the firm and was paid £4,672 a month, according to the details lodged at Westminster early last month.

But Sinn Féin said the register is "now outdated" and insisted that Mr Finucane remains "focused on his role as an MP".

Mr Finucane ousted Brexiteer DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds in December's election, benefitting from added pro-Remain support after the SDLP and Greens stood aside.

Sinn Féin MPs do not take their seats at Westminster due to the party's abstentionist policy.

The details of Mr Finucane's register of interests were first reported by the Sunday Life last weekend.

DUP North Belfast MLA Paula Bradley questioned his law firm commitments, asking: "Where exactly do constituents fit within that heavy workload?"

"The public deserve an explanation from Mr Finucane and from Sinn Féin," she added.

UUP leader Steve Aiken criticised Sinn Féin's abstentionist policy

"While other MPs are participating fully in parliament, Sinn Féin MPs are on the outside looking in, or in John's case, doing another job," he said.

A Sinn Féin spokesman said: "The 40 hours referenced in the register of interests is now outdated and inaccurate.

"John is focused on his role as an MP representing his constituents of North Belfast.

"He remains a director of Finucane Toner but has now taken a back seat in the day-to-day work of the firm.

"Sinn Féin MPs do not receive a wage from Westminster."

The party did not disclose how many hours a week Mr Finucane is now working for Finucane Toner, or what wage he will receive from party funds.

In the past Sinn Féin had maintained that all its elected representatives accepted an 'average industrial wage' with the rest donated to the party and constituency matters.

But in 2018, the party said a review of its wage structures in 2016 led to a 'recommended party wage' which is "entirely voluntary".

At that time, the party said all its MLAs and MPs accepted a 'recommended party wage' of "£28,480 before tax which is a take home pay of roughly £431 a week".

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