Tuesday 12 December 2017

Sinn Fein accused of hypocrisy over €1.9m UK 'top-up'

Gerry Adams: hit out at salary top-ups
Gerry Adams: hit out at salary top-ups

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

SINN Fein has been accused of hypocrisy for criticising charity executives' salary top-ups while at the same time accepting a €1.9m "top-up" from the British taxpayer for its absent MPs.

Latest figures show that between 2010-2013, the party received £1.58m (€1.9m) in payments from the British government for office costs and staff salaries even though none of its five MPs have taken up their seats in the House of Commons.

The disclosure comes just days after Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said people were scandalised by the "excessive" salary top-ups for charity executives.

Fine Gael TD Patrick O'Donovan said it was "total hypocrisy" on Sinn Fein's part when they were accepting payments for their absent MPs.

"This is a top-up from the British taxpayer. I don't know any other job in the world where you can get an allowance for staff when you don't turn up for work," he said.

Sinn Fein currently has five MPs -- Pat Doherty, Michelle Gildernew, Paul Maskey, Conor Murphy and Francie Molloy.

They do not attend the House of Commons and are not paid MPs' salaries and certain grants as a result of their self-imposed absence. But they are still entitled to claim the costs of staffing and running MPs' constituency offices in the North, as well as office facilities in London.

Mr O'Donovan said that Sinn Fein would be perfectly entitled to claim back the costs of their offices and their staff if they were working as MPs in parliament.

"If they are going to have absentionist policies, they should refrain from taking any of the Queen's shillings," he said.

A Sinn Fein spokesman said its MPs do not take their seats at Westminster but represent their constituents every single day of the week on social and economic matters and the political 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 in London. All of these expenses all fully receipted," he said.

Irish Independent

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