Northern Ireland news

Sinn Féin's John Finucane among the top 20 highest earning MPs outside of Westminster pay, new research reveals

North Belfast Sinn Féin MP John Finucane is 20th in a list of Westminster's highest earning MPs, new research has revealed. Picture by Mal McCann
Paul Ainsworth

SINN Féin's John Finucane was among the 20 MPs with the highest earnings outside of their parliamentary pay, a new examination of Westminster finances has revealed.

The North Belfast MP is the 20th highest earning MP since the current Westminster term began in December 2019, according to the research by Sky News and Tortoise Media, who scrutinised all secondary incomes of House of Commons members, finding a total of over £17.1 million earned by all MPs.

The list was topped by former prime minister Theresa May, who has declared £2,550,876 this term.

Mr Finucane, who ousted the DUP's Nigel Dodds in the 2019 UK General Election, earned a total of £161,259 from January 2020 to December 2022, placing him among Westminster's highest earners for work outside of their roles representing constituents.

All MPs receive an annual base salary of £84,144.

Most of Mr Finucane's secondary earnings was from his work as a solicitor with Belfast law firm Finucane Toner, with the highest payment among the 37 financial interests declared under Westminster rules being £4,670.

The only other financial interest declared by Mr Finucane was a payment of £1,310 made in February 2020 by the Friends of Sinn Féin fundraising organisation.

The Sky News/Tortoise Media research shows that payments in the current parliamentary term to Sinn Féin, who have seven MPs but do not take their seats at Westminster, have been bolstered by £1.1 million donation by William E Hampton.

The donor, who died in 2018 at the age of 82, was a British citizen born in London who worked as a motor mechanic and driver.

His total of £1.5 million was revealed in 2019 by the Electoral Commission as the largest donation ever received by a political party in the north.

Following the revelation of the significant sum, a Sinn Féin party spokesperson said they were "pleased that he has chosen to bequest this sum to the party and it's a positive boost to Sinn Féin in working towards Irish unity and towards our political objectives".

The Westminster earnings examination showed that along with Mr Hampton's donation, Sinn Féin's parliamentary income this term was boosted by the party's former Stormont ministers and Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey. Ex-finance minister Conor Murphy and Mr Maskey both paid £8,130, while former communities minister Deirdre Hargey paid £8,160.

Former deputy first minister Michelle O'Neill paid £42,040.

Speaking of the North Belfast MP's £161,259 secondary income, a Sinn Féin spokesperson told the Irish News last night that Mr Finucane "has declared these earnings over three years in the Register of Interests as he commits to a limited amount of hours per month as a lead partner in his law firm".

Meanwhile, of the top 19 MPs for outside earnings above Mr Finucane, two are Labour representatives, while the remaining high earners are Conservative party members.

Labour's Jess Phillips was the 19th highest, declaring interests worth £162,838, while former Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson, the 11th highest, declared £209,227.

Behind Theresa May and former Attorney General Geoffrey Cox in third place was ex-prime minister Boris Johnson, who has earned £1,064,785 this parliamentary term.

Northern Ireland news