SDLP leader’s register of interest lapse ‘due to an administrative error…’

4 views

So after some ribbing on Twitter for not covering this story (try Googling it guys?), John Manley reports this morning that Alasdair McDonnell is in a bit of bother again, this time over not reporting income from a rental property he bought in London in 2005 when he was first elected:

The South Belfast MP and MLA blamed “an administrative error” for the failure to declare his London apartment on the House of Commons register of interests.

Dr McDonnell has been claiming around £3,000 a year for hotel stays in London since 2009 when the accommodation allowance rules changed. Rental income from his flat, in the Vauxhall area, has not been declared during this period.

However, the rental property has appeared on the Stormont register of interests from 2011. The amount of rent he receives is not revealed.

Prior to 2009 members of parliament were entitled to purchase property for use in London and claim back the interest on the mortgage, the stamp duty and the furnishing of the apartment.

Manley goes on to report:

From his election to Westminster in 2005 up until 2009 the SDLP leader claimed more than £86,000 on expenses towards the mortgage interest on the Vauxhall apartment.

When he bought the property in 2005 Dr McDonnell also claimed £13,800 in stamp duty from parliamentary expenses and £1,360 for blinds and curtains.

Following the Westminster expenses scandal five years ago, which led to a tightening of the rules on what MPs could claim for, Dr McDonnell began staying in hotels.

The early details are more revealing than McDonnell’s neglect to tell the Commons after the rule change about the rental income. Not least because when the register of interests was introduced at Stormont in 2011 he duly obliged with the detail.

At that level of public subsidy, why wouldn’t a MP get himself a little pied a terre in London? Or club together allowances with colleagues to rent a little yellow brick house you don’t need to use.

, ,

  • galloglaigh

    It’s kinda like going to Australia, filling in the declaration saying you’ve no food or dead animals in your bag, then they find a monkey’s head!

    What would you expect from the SDLP?

    Sliding Down the Lampost of Power!

  • Los Lobos

    The SDLP have often been likened to Fianna Fail, especially during the Celtic boom when many in the Party were openly touting for a merger with Bertie and his chums. The ‘Brown envelope’ culture that was so prevalent in Fanna Fail could have been the thread that ran through both parties. Corruption didn’t end at the border, the donation secrecy laws that operate in NI means the public have no idea how much big businesses give the parties in NI. This story is a story of greed, greed that permeates the entire body politic at the Executive table.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    I will be recommending a policy of Abstention to the Party at the next Conference. That should solve the problem.

  • Neil

    The SDLP – the party of labour values.

    :d

  • sherdy

    Isn’t it amazing that the ‘administrative error’ didn’t affect anything he was able to claim – only what he should have declared.
    Alasdair – your nose is getting longer by the day.

  • Tir Chonaill Gael

    Torn on this one.

    On the one hand, if he’s in London for two or three days per week, then why should he lose out on rental income for a private property that he’s entitled to have?
    On the other, it’s pretty galling that he bought the house with massive help from the taxpayer and is now profiting from it: and will probably ultimately double his money when he comes to sell it, given the way London’s property market is going at the moment.

  • Mark

    How embarrassing for SDLP ….. Their party leader taking such a bad fall from their moral high horse .

  • Charles_Gould

    Alasdair McDonnell has taken the right steps as soon as the oversight was noticed. nothing here to complain about.

  • Neil

    Just like McDevitt eh Charles? Nothing to see there either. At least all those labour values don’t prevent them from earning a crust.

  • mjh

    In a statement, SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell said: “Conall McDevitt has done the right thing by resigning after admitting his failure to register funds received by him during his time as MLA in accordance with assembly rules.

    “I welcome Conall’s speedy and definitive response in this regard and accept his resignation.” – BBC news report 4th Sept 2013.

    It may be these words which will cause more discomfort to McDonnell than the issue itself.

  • megatron

    The moral of the story is its hard working staying up on a high horse.

  • Barney

    I think it’s nice we have all bought him a new house

  • Charles_Gould

    Donal does deserve a lot of credit but his situation is no comparable to Dr McDonnell. Both of high moral integrity.

  • Charles_Gould

    Conall, not Donal.

  • Neil

    his situation is no comparable to Dr McDonnell.

    Both failed to register income on the register of interests. I’d describe that as ‘comparable’.

  • socaire

    Is this the iceberg or just the tip of?

  • Coll Ciotach

    “Both of high moral integrity” – are you trying to stick the knife in Charles? Guess what the obvious retort I am going to utter following that.

    Alisdair may have made a genuine mistake, people do that. But here is the problem, surely, as a professional man, he has an accountant? Surely as a leader of a majorish party here he has people around to check these things? If so I would expect one of them to step up and fall on the sword, if not then it is sole responsibility and he has to accept all that comes to him as a man of high moral integrity I would expect him to follow the path set by that other paragon of manly virtue, Conal.
    .

  • Charles_Gould

    Neil
    I’d argue they’re different, as Alasdair’s was just an administrative oversight, and corrected as soon as noticed.

  • Charles_Gould

    conall was a massive loss to the SDLP and indeed to all of politics. I would argue that he has demonstrated his moral integrity.

    Dr McDonnell has made an administrative error – who hasn’t done that the odd time. He has set things right as soon as he realised, and has therefore redeemed himself. He has no need to resign.

    It is probably resentment to his sureness of touch as a leader that SF posters are so eager to call for his resignation. But the calls are as absurd as they are opportunistic.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    Would this be a classic case of someone being hoisted on their own petard?

  • Mark

    Another moral of the story Megatron would be not to get on the horse in the first place .

  • Coll Ciotach

    Is there someone informing the press of these things from within the SDLP, maybe internal scores being settled?

  • Neil

    Charles,

    McDonnell – admin oversight. Corrected when realised.
    McDevitt – mistake. Corrected when realised.

    Potato, potahto.

    His sureness of touch? Lol. Very good, I still can’t recall having seen him publicly beyond his Victor Meldrew impersonation at the conference a couple of years back. Anyway I’m not calling for anything, just having a chuckle at these money spinning labour values we keep hearing you speak of. Vaguely. It’s even more amusing when viewed in the context of that internal, leaked report where the stoops were being described as ‘conservative’, ‘middle class’ (second homes, rentals in London, my wife’s consultations etc.). You’ve made hay yourself when SF were getting squeezed, I’m merely doing the same. Now tell me what labour values do they have, that you keep (not) telling us about?

    The South Down Landlord’s Party? Sorry, Don’t Laugh, Principles? :D

    “Conall McDevitt has done the right thing by resigning after admitting his failure to register funds received by him during his time as MLA in accordance with assembly rules.”

    McDonnell. Now, let’s hear it. In what way is McDonnell himself not now admitting his failure to register funds received by him during his time as MLA in accordance with assembly rules?

    Mr Joe seems to have called it right. Hoisted on his own petard. Does he hold himself to the same standard as McDevitt who he apparently disliked intensely?

  • Mick Fealty

    socaire

    I think we see pretty much all the iceberg, which as TCG notes is the assistance big Al got in buying the London house.

    For there to be hidden depths to it someone would need to have more information than we currently have in the publishable public domain.

    Does anyone yet know who the yellow brick house belonged to, or who the young professionals were who seemed to be the only ones using it?

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    “The SDLP have often been likened to Fianna Fail, especially during the Celtic boom when many in the Party were openly touting for a merger with Bertie and his chums. The ‘Brown envelope’ culture that was so prevalent in Fanna Fail could have been the thread that ran through both parties.”

    @Los Lobos,

    Despite Charles Gould’s constant protestations, it has long been apparent that the SDLP has much more in common with Christian Democrats than with Social Democrats. Now it is apparent that they take after their Italian brethren rather than the Germans.

  • Charlie Sheens PR guru

    There’s a lot of Sinners on slugger who no matter what outrage the DUP are causing this week, seem to wait until what can be safely regarded as mildly embarrassing and a touch hyprocritical from Alasdair McDonnell to unleash their worst diatribe. Is it simply because the SDLP is the only party Sinn Fein can squeeze any votes out of ? Is attacking the DUP just not worth it anymore? Particularly as SF are in bed with them?

    If it’s just a few excitable SF supporters seeing a few votes being dangled in front of them then I have news for you: There’s really nothing left for you to gain. Those who don’t support SF by now never will given that out of the four main parties SDLP has nothing to answer for in terms of incitement (DUP), armed campaigns(SF) or tacid support for the state to go to do it’s worst in terms of discrimination, UDR, RUC collusion, Paratroop regiment atrocities etc… (UUP).

    I’m not a fan of Alasdair McDonnell, (I think the bull in a China shop reference revealed though Wikileaks wasn’t far off) but to think that this man should step down when Gerry Adams has been leader for years. Apart from the frickin’ obvious, I can think of 26 million reasons why SF are staying quiet let their slugger and twitter worshippers do the dirty work…

    Also to not attend Westminster and still claim the expenses is such a sell out of the mere notion of abstentionism as to take everyone for fools. Just like no one buys the ‘average industrial wage’ nonsense anymore. I love how people keep touting how it goes into a SF account… ok…. then where? I think it was Senator Norris during the presidential debate that told Martin McGuinness that “I’m not sure that huge Sinn Fein battle bus you’ve been touring the country in could be bought on the average industrial wage” touche

    I notice how all the links to the SDLP MPs making their oath as MPs to the queen are suddenly not as fashionable anymore since McGuinness shook the queens hand. All these petty distractions seem to be drying up for SF supporters. Of course the slow move to constitutional continues and it seems that Michelle Gildernew knew that it’s a hard sell to a hard pushed electorate that abstentionism makes sense as seen in the video below at 6min 25 sec. Will make 2015 interesting.

  • Charles_Gould

    ” have often been likened to Fianna Fail, especially during the Celtic boom when many in the Party were openly touting for a merger with Bertie and his chums. The ‘Brown envelope’ culture that was so prevalent in Fanna Fail could have been the thread that ran through both parties”

    “it has long been apparent that the SDLP has much more in common with Christian Democrats than with Social Democrats. Now it is apparent that they take after their Italian brethren rather than the Germans.”

    What utter, and I mean utter, nonsense.

    *There is nothing corrupt or unsocialist about this, an error. There was no brown envelope.

    *What we have here is a classic attack on people of the left: if you are poor and on the left you are jealous, if you’re not poor and you’re on th left you are a hypocrite. Its a nonsense attack to claim this admin error means SDLP arae not Social Democratic.

  • 241934 john brennan

    In Ireland, the absentee landlord never gets a good press. For a very busy person, forgetting about a flat in London is London is easily excused – just ‘an administrative oversight’. Also easily excused is being unaware that another rented property in Belfast had no occupants at all, other than alien cannabis plants.

  • Charles_Gould

    John Brennan

    If you have no money and on the left you’re branded jealous, if you have some and you’re on the left then you’re branded hypoctitical. Its all nonsense, and a classic way the right tend to try to dismiss those on the left.

  • socaire

    Circling the wagons singlehandedly, Charles. Methinks you protest too much. I think he should step down. Make a change from stoop down. At least he’s in a position to pay it back.

  • son of sam

    Socaire
    I think “Charlie Sheens” post above sums up the position adequately.No doubt,as a loyal S F supporter you feel obliged to give Mc Donnell a ritual kick but are all Shinner M Ps/ M L As models of integrity?

  • Charles_Gould

    Though I am a fan of McDonnell, I also agree with the main gist of c sheens post

  • socaire

    SoS, One doesn’t have to support PSF to be nauseated by the other (ex) largest nationalist party. And what has £26m got to do with PSF? And can you compare shaking hands with grovelling and lifelong fealty pledging? Straws and plucking?

  • son of sam

    Socaire
    Your nausea does seem a tad selective!Perhaps you are too young to remember the Northern Bank robbery to which ” Sheen” alludes.You do seem a little coy about your support for S F.

  • socaire

    I repeat. What has the £26m got to do with PSF?

  • Charles_Gould

    Soc. sf being the iras political wing and the Ira stealing the money from Northern bank.

  • sherdy

    Charles, – Check with Special Branch. They may be able to enlighten you.

  • socaire

    Charles, as an upstanding citizen and SDLP supporter, I just know that you have passed the vital information which you seem to have about PSF and their overlap with PIRA on to the Police service of our country. Failure to do so would raise the question ……. Why not?

  • son of sam

    Socaire
    You seem to take a particular delight in winding up Charles up about culpability for the Northern Bank robbery.Are you stating specifically that Republicans had no involvement in that crime?Just as you have advised Charles ,no doubt you will bring any relevant information you have on the robbery to the attention of the P S N I.

  • Charles_Gould

    Soc: the Financial Times is a very high-reputation newspaper, without question the highest quality newspaper in these islands, and my paper of choice (I am an economist). Well after the IRA Northern Bank Robbery, it always wrote “Sinn Féin, the political wing of the IRA, …” on the first mention of SF in every news report.

  • sherdy

    Charles, – The Financial Times naturally has a reputation in financial matters, but it always had a political bias as far as reporting on NI matters.
    If the Provos did the Northern Bank robbery, when do they intend spending all that money?
    Get your financial brain past the one plus one equals three level.

  • socaire

    SoS, is the Tory govt the political wing of the British Army? And why would anybody in their right mind pass on anything to the PSNI? If you don’t recognise the state you don’t recognise their police force. And anyway, Charles the economist asks to be wound up.

  • Charles_Gould

    “And why would anybody in their right mind pass on anything to the PSNI? ”

    In order that wrong doers may be brought to justice.

  • sean treacy

    Charles often braggs about the stoops having close links to the free state Labour party.Theres one or two boys in that party would know a thing or two about bank robbing or even printing their own tenners!

  • son of sam

    Charles
    You seem to have touched a raw nerve as all the “usual suspects” appear to pour scorn !Socaire asks” why would anybody in their right mind pass on anything to the P S N I”?I thought the D F M (one of the leaders of his party) had encouraged his followers to do so!

  • sean treacy

    Ah, the”usual suspects”-reminds me of the good old days when the RUC or the heavy gang in the south could arrange for “trouble makers” to get lifted when politicians were getting a bit of heat.The Dowra affair is a perfect example where the RUC scooped a”usual suspect” who just that morning happened to be due to give evidence against a FF justice ministers brother in law!

  • son of sam

    Ah yes;the “good old days”when the I R A arranged for troublesome folk to be “disappeared” !

  • sean treacy

    The staters started that lark but the stoops wont mention that when the gombeen men come up north to canvas for them.

  • socaire

    ‘Wrong’ doers is pretty subjective, Charles, is it not? I mean, one man makes an ‘administrative’ error and stands down whereas another man in the same position may not feel the need. Ah SoS, try changing your bait.

  • Reader

    socaire: If you don’t recognise the state you don’t recognise their police force.
    Would you consider temporarily recognising them for long enough to get a Crime reference number for the insurance company?

  • socaire

    The insurance company recognises them and asks that i produce an incident number from them. If they asked for one from the Orange Order or St Vincent de Paul I would try to get one. Can you not distinguish a civilian police force from a paramilitary political police force. And when we’re talking about the Northern Bank robbery, I have a theory that it was a bunch of highly organised and well armed ex-RUC men who did the robbery. Everything fits. Wasn’t some of the money found in their social club?

  • Neil

    “Conall McDevitt has done the right thing by resigning after admitting his failure to register funds received by him during his time as MLA in accordance with assembly rules.”

    Victor Meldrew.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Much as I would relish a chance to beat up the SDLP the pickings here are pretty slim.

    Alistair is renting out a house which is his own private property and failed to register his interest as a landlord in the House of Commons. The fact that he did so in the Assembly lends credibility to the idea that this was indeed an administrative oversight. Alistair’s property interests are not exactly new and I doubt there would be any point in actively attempting to conceal them.

    Listening to Shinners complain about the evils of landlordism is hilarious. The leadership of Sinn Féin is a property-owning class in its own right, and the Sinn Féin Lord Mayor if Belfast is an arch-capitalist newspaper baron.

  • Neil

    Here’s Victor demonstrating the key to his sureness of touch, which is getting plenty of rest.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGChURmGkLI

    SDLP – the party of (unspecified) Labour values.

  • Reader

    socaire: Wasn’t some of the money found in their social club?
    Sports and Social Club – which is used for sporting events and can be hired for functions – not exactly Fort Knox. The world has moved on from the old days, you know.

  • Neil

    A) It was the old days and B) It’s more than was ever found in Connolly House. The main source of the ‘the only people who could have pulled this off was the IRA’ line was the cops. I can think of one other outfit that had the logistical abilities, and I’m not thinking of the IRPS, no I’m thinking of the people who use the club where the money was found. Hardly surprising that it was uncritically seized upon by Unionists as ‘proven’ without either evidence or convictions.

  • socaire

    It’s a good job that they’ve gone away , you know. Damn they have all been rehired. I thought that Patten’s settlement was very generous.

  • Reader

    Neil: A) It was the old days
    1998: Good Friday Agreement
    2001: Formation of PSNI
    2004: Northern Bank Robbery
    Neil: B) It’s more than was ever found in Connolly House.
    When was the last time Connolly House was searched by anyone who would have passed on such a piece of information?

  • socaire

    Why was Connolly House not searched? Were the PIRA not the chief suspects? Why was a certain Social club searched? I would think that people capable of other crimes wouldn’t at a teensy weensy bank robbery.

  • socaire

    wouldn’t baulk

  • Neil

    When was the last time Connolly House was searched by anyone who would have passed on such a piece of information?

    You’re right. The absence of proof as evidence of crime isn’t a new tactic. If they had a shred of proof they would have used it, but they didn’t. Therefore: guilty! Very good.

  • Comrade Stalin

    socaire, nobody is at all fooled by this silly misdirection. I’ve heard all this recycled propaganda so many times over now that it’s just boring.

    Anyway this is off topic.

  • socaire

    Nobody at all? Sorry for saying ‘silly’ things.

  • Charles_Gould

    All this talk of the IRA robberies, not to mention their murder of R McCartney, and the complete failure of SF over all of that, reminds us of the difference in moral integrity between SDLP and SF. Different moral planets.

    Gerry Adams and Conal Mcdevitt: compare and contrast the integrity levels

  • sherdy

    Charles, – Alasdair McDonnell and Conal McDevitt: compare and contrast the integrity levels!
    Reader, – 2001 Formation of PSNI.
    2004 Threat to future of Special Branch, followed by Northern Bank robbery, followed by threat to future of SB magically disappears.
    Pure coincidence, I’m sure.

  • son of sam

    Interesting article by Jim Cusack in Independent.ie on 19th January this year describing certain goings-on in South Armagh.No doubt it will all be described as fiction by the Connolly House drones!

  • socaire

    Charles, I don’t know what ivory tower you have been in since the 70′s but we don’t mention the SDLP and moral integrity in the same breath. In the old days it was enough to suspect a republican of a crime for him to land in jail. How come no ‘suspected’ republican bank robbers ended up in court never mind in jail?

  • sean treacy

    SOS,if you are trying to make a point about anything please do not quote Jim Cusack.The man is a complete laughing stock who nobody takes seriously.

  • socaire

    SoS, can you give a link to this incisive bit of reportage?

  • son of sam

    Socaire
    Can’t give you a purely technical link but if you goggle “Who was responsible for Northern Bank robbery”, it’s on page 2 of results.

  • socaire

    SoS. Can’t find Indo/S Armagh link only this: n total, 10 people have been arrested and three have been charged in connection with the robbery. However, to the frustration of detectives, no one has been charged with actually carrying it out. To this day, the robbers themselves remain unknown

  • son of sam

    Socaire
    The heading is “Man fears for life after spending £50,000 of “I R A cash” on booze and women”

  • Neil

    It is understood the cash — said to be £50,000 in mainly Northern Bank sterling notes

    Seems fairly vague. “Understood” to be “mainly” Northern Bank notes. And yet on reporting this to the PSNI the young man is still at large, is it not still a crime to be caught in possession of stolen property? Leading to the conclusion (for this voter any way) that a) the Southern Belfast Tele is a rag I wouldn’t wipe my arse with which has a proven anti SF agenda, and b) the money wasn’t proven stolen. But then as it’s only “understood” to be “mainly” Northern notes, a cynic might think that some unnamed individual was prepared to state this, and the indo was prepared to run with it.

  • Neil

    And in advance of the ‘shoot the messenger’ defence, here’s a post from last year, detailing one weeks worth of Indo journalism re: SF. See a pattern?

    Neil (profile) 10 December 2013 at 9:17 am
    Here are a selection of Indo/Sindo articles from the past week. Spot a pattern?

    “‘Cult-like’ Sinn Fein not suitable for coalition”
    “Sinn Fein’s laissez-faire attitude to terrorism”
    “Shameful past hard to escape”
    “Adams now has more baggage than an A380 aircraft”
    “Adams’s callousness reveals gulf between Sinn Fein and Irish public”
    “Gerry Adams RUC blame claims ‘nauseating’”
    “Niall O’Connor and Sarah MacDonald”
    “Smithwick will be seen by unionists as vindication of long-held beliefs”
    “Findings ‘will have implications for peace’”
    “It’s no surprise dirty tactics were used to help ‘the cause’”
    “Adams turns into proper Charlie in political twilight”
    “‘SF knows that republicans “investigated” cases of abuse. I know, because it happened to me’”
    “Sinn Fein stance on abuse speaks volumes”
    “Horror of IRA rape cover-ups slowly revealed”

    One week!

  • socaire

    SOs, I’M DISAPPOINTED IN YOU

    SoS, I’m disappointed in you. What a load of old bollix.