21 May 2009 Edition
Sinn Féin challenges all parties at Westminster to publish expenses now
WITH Westminster in turmoil with almost daily exposés of scandalous expenses claims by Labour, Conservative Party and Liberal Democrat MPs, West Belfast MP Gerry Adams has called on all political parties to publish full accounts of what they receive in salaries and allowances - as Sinn Féin has for years.
“The electorate has the right to expect the highest standards from those holding public office and to be confident that taxpayers’ money is being used properly,” the Sinn Féin leader said.
“There is deep public anger over the abuse of allowances by MPs at Westminster. There is anger at the systematic ripping off of taxpayers’ money from those elected to high office and anger at the complete lack of transparency and accountability.
“Not only does the system need to change; there is a need for a change in political culture.
“For several years now, Sinn Féin has voluntarily published our full annual accounts, north and south and in the USA.
“We do this because we believe that this is something to which the electorate is entitled. We have repeatedly called on other parties to do the same but in the majority of cases they refuse to do so.”
On 15 August 2008, Sinn Féin published the party’s annual financial statements for both the North and the South. These accounts are for the year ended 31 December 2007 and are on the party’s website (www.sinnfein.ie).
The 2008 financial statement will be published this summer.
AVERAGE INDUSTRIAL WAGE
Sinn Féin MPs, like all party members who are paid a wage, receive exactly the same average industrial wage - £356 per week nett.
There is no personal or self-gain by Sinn Féin MPs in respect of monies or allowances paid by Westminster.
Despite this, there has been misleading media reports about Sinn Féin MPs’ expenses.
Gerry Adams said:
“Over the last number of days there have been some wildly inaccurate and political biased reports about Sinn Féin MPs. The facts are very simple.
“Sinn Féin MPs do not take our seats at Westminster but we represent our constituents every single day of the week on social and economic matters and in relation to the Peace Process.
“We do so in Ireland and in London. In order to represent our constituents, we employ a number of staff. We also have office facilities and accommodation in London.
“In the interests of full disclosure we are publishing the full breakdown of staff costs, travel, administration and accommodation allowances. Other parties should do the same.”
And what the Fleet Street and unionist press doesn’t say is that the British Government refuses to pay elected Sinn Féin MPs the salaries and other grants which all other Westminster MPs receive. Over the last five years this has amounted to almost £2 million.
There are also a number of allowances, which they do not claim. And Sinn Féin MPs who become ministers do not claim for constituency travel allowances.
Gerry Adams said:
“Sinn Féin and those who vote for us expect the highest standards from all of our public representatives. We will continue to act in an open and transparent manner. And we will do all that we can to end the corrupt political culture which operates on both parts of this island.”
Sinn Féin accounts for expenses
The five Sinn Féin MPs are denied:-
• MPs’ salaries from Westminster. This means that the party has been denied over the last five years £1.4 million;
• £100,000 per annum in Policy Development Grants which are given to Sinn Féin’s political opponents in the SDLP and DUP.
Sinn Féin MPs have not claimed:-
• Overnight allowances of £25 per day;
• The Communications Allowance of £10,000 per MP per annum or £50,000 for Sinn Féin’s five MPs;
• Food expenses.
All five MPs claim:-
• Staff costs: Each MP is allowed up to £100,205 per annum. MPs and other Sinn Féin elected representatives do not appoint family members to their staff. After the initial appointment of staff by the MPs, the responsibility for payment of salaries, tax and welfare passes to the Westminster authorities. Additional accommodation allowances: Each MP draws down £21,600 per annum, less than the full allowance of £24,222 a year. This covers the rent and services for rented properties in London. Neither Sinn Féin nor the individual MPs own these properties and the rental payment is an all-inclusive service and rental contract covering rent, gas, electricity, water, council taxes, waste, furnishings (but excludes four purchases in 2004 which are accounted for under the heading ‘Miscellaneous’ below), cleaning, laundry and insurance. These leases have been approved by Westminster officials.
The two properties are:-
• A townhouse for the joint use of Conor Murphy, Martin McGuinness and Michelle Gildernew.
• An apartment for the joint use of Pat Doherty and Gerry Adams.
Administration & Expenditure Allowance
Each MP draws down £22,393 per annum. This allowance covers the cost of running the constituency operation. All our MPs draw down this allowance and all claims are supported by invoices and proper documentation.
Sinn Féin’s constituency service is acknowledged as professional and effective.
Constituency Travel Allowance
Adams = £686
Doherty = £3,060
Gildernew = £5,042
McGuinness = £2,434
Murphy = £2,068
Adams = £1,352
Doherty = £4,013.
Gildernew = £5,837
McGuinness = £4,287
Murphy = £2,871
Adams = Nil
Doherty = £2,916
Gildernew = £1,516
April 2007- July 2007
McGuinness = £1,530
Murphy = £1,650
Adams = Nil
Doherty = £3,000 (estimate)
Gildernew = Nil
McGuinness = Nil
Murphy = Nil
Sinn Féin MPs who became ministers stopped making claims for constituency travel allowances when ministerial cars were provided in 2007.
In May 2004, when the party took up the rental leases in London, claims were made on the following purchases:-
• 1 x television system = £559
• 1 x television system = £559
• 1 x bed settee = £795
• 1 set Venetian blinds = £485