16 March 2005 Edition

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Anger as sanctions are imposed on SF MPs

Sinn Féin says the British Government's decision to impose sanctions on the party is undemocratic.

British Direct Ruler Paul Murphy announced the decision to strip the party's four MPs of up to £440,000 on Thursday 10 March, following the report from the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) which held the IRA responsible for robbing the Northern Bank in December.

In its report, the IMC concluded, without any evidence, that the IRA had "planned and undertaken" the bank raid as well as three other major robberies last year and that Sinn Féin must "bear its share of the responsibility".

Responding to the announcement, Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy said the decision to remove the allowances was as predicable as it was undemocratic.

"Republicans were challenged to take our analysis to the electorate and we did so and as a result Sinn Féin is the largest pro-Agreement party in the North and the third biggest on the island of Ireland. The response of the governments, North and South, has been to move the goalposts and introduce undemocratic sanctions against Sinn Féin, which are based on unfounded allegations".

The four Sinn Féin MPs British Commons allowances, amounting to £440,000, were stripped after a so-called debate in which the Conservative Party, backed by pro-unionist Labour MPs and the Unionist parties, attempted to have Sinn Féin's Westminster offices shut down, barring the party from using its parliamentary facilities.

MPs agreed, without putting it to a vote, to impose a yearlong suspension of Sinn Féin's allowances.

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