Sinn Féin biggest spenders in Westminster campaign

Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion with Michelle O'Neill during the General Election count for Foyle. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

The two Sinn Féin Westminster candidates who successfully unseated their SDLP rivals were the biggest regional spenders in June's election, fresh figures reveal.

South Down MP Chris Hazzard and his Foyle counterpart Elisha McCallion spent £15,238 and £14,770 respectively on general election campaigning, according to expenditure returns from the Electoral Commission.

The 109 candidates who contested the election reported spending a total of £449,583 – an average of £4124 per candidate.

Spending figures for the parties – as opposed to individual candidates – showed that almost £120,000 was spent in total during the campaign, with Sinn Féin's £28,196 representing the highest outlay.

The Northern Ireland Conservatives were the second highest spenders with £27,488 paid out during the campaign, followed by the DUP, which spend £21,802.

Alliance's Westminster campaign expenditure was £17,105, while the Ulster Unionists and SDLP spent £13,580 and £9,274 respectively.

Three parties – People Before Profit Alliance, the Workers Party and Traditional Unionist Voice – submitted nil returns.

Meanwhile, the election watchdog has said online campaign messages should be required to carry an imprint stating who publishes it to help voters identify who is trying to influence their decision at the polls.

The Electoral Commission said that as social media becomes increasingly important to election campaigns, with Jeremy Corbyn thought to have benefited at the 2017 general election, risks to transparency have grown.

It recommended that online campaign material published by political parties and non-party campaigners should be required to include an imprint.

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