Slugger O'Toole

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SF quietly axe northern political director as stance public stance on Stormont hardens

Mon 10 February 2014, 3:00pm

Interesting, or not, as the case may be. We won’t be told why Leo is no longer in post, but you do wonder if the new tougher stance on Stormont and the party’s OFMdFM partners DUP is related to him being rotated out of his job.

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Comments (114)

  1. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Mick,

    What you suggested above is that SF have control over MLA salaries. This is wrong. SF do not control MLA salaries.

    The only thing that is odd about the arrangement is the depth of SF MLA’s commitment to the cause or – perhaps more accurately – the fact that SF MLAs are willing to sign up to these conditions whenever they put themselves up for nomination.

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  2. sean treacy (profile) says:

    Dixie,you the 32s ,1916 societies and uncle Tom Cobley and all are all part of the same rent a mob that travel around the six counties ad nauseum trying to invent an imaginary support base.Every demo ,no matter where it is held involves the same faces bussed in from in some cases a hundred miles away.If you are ashamed of these people ,then stop marching with them and tell them to stop changing their names on a weekly basis so that the people can keep up with them.As for paedo protecting ,were the dissos in north Belfast not involved in that activity only a few months ago?

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  3. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Agreed Ken.

    CS,

    I understand that flat salaried organisations generate extraordinary commitment. I’ve got the long service tee shirt on that one myself!

    That’s not the issue here.

    I asked you to name any political party that has the degree of direct control over assets of its *public* representatives.

    You haven’t. Until you can, I rest my case (and my head for the night).

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  4. Neil (profile) says:

    I asked you to name any political party that has the degree of direct control over assets of its *public* representatives.

    The DUP can ‘resign’ it’s employees via the aforementioned resignation letters, thereby depriving their reps of any income whatsoever. Leave SF and get your full wage. Leave the DUP and get nothing.

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  5. Rory Carr (profile) says:

    Mick seems often to forget that Sinn Féin go to the polls on a manifesto that includes the committment that elected representatives will draw only an amount equivalent to the AIW for their living arrangements. Any individual seeking to put themselves forward as a SF candidate then also must commit themselves to such a sacrifice.

    But then sacrifice comes naturally to Republican activists and I do appreciate that it is such a disciplined choice that is not easily comprehensible to those sections of political life whose ideology is based above all on individual material advancement.

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  6. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    I refer you to the tee shirt reference above. My unease is rather that it overly binds the representative to the party organisation than to its constituents, or indeed their own judgement.

    I can see lots of reasons otherwise why it’s a good idea, not least maintaining party integrity through the disintegrative forces of PR STV.

    But it’s a corrosion of the system that isn’t possible in the south in the same way because beyond the €6k allowed by SIPO any money has to go through individual deputies.

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  7. derrydave (profile) says:

    A corrosion of the system ?? I’d say it’s much more of a corrosion of the system to have public representatives paid obscene amounts of money which encourage them to enter public life with the intention of building a career and lining their pockets rather than with the intention of helping people, standing up for what they believe in, and making society a better place for all !

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  8. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Mick,

    I asked you to name any political party that has the degree of direct control over assets of its *public* representatives.

    But Sinn Féin don’t have any degree of direct control over the assets of their public representatives. Why do you keep asserting this in the face of all the evidence ?

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  9. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    No, that’s absolutely right CS. They only take two thirds of an MLAs net salary and use a private company to disperse all secretarial and research services: http://goo.gl/TCt2aA.

    Nothing to see here, move along please?

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  10. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    DD,

    There’s nothing to prevent it happening in the north, so fair does. I’m outta this for the day, I’ll come back when quiet returns this evening.

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  11. Seamuscamp (profile) says:

    Mick

    “My unease is rather that it overly binds the representative to the party organisation than to its constituents, or indeed their own judgement.”

    My local MP has been deselected by the Tories (on the face of it for surprisingly coherent reasons) following a ballot of the local membership. The MP thinks she should only be deselected if all her constituents are consulted. I think no representatives of political parties (SF or any other) are independent of their party if they want to continue past the next eection

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  12. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Mick

    FYI Conall McDevitt was not in sf

    http://goo.gl/TCt2aA.

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  13. Kensei (profile) says:

    Mick

    SF don’t have control of two thirds of their salaries. The individuals donate it to the party. If they want to stop doing that, they can do.

    I don’t know the impact of the secretarial services. I could see why control over choosing your secretary and researchers might have an impact, but I’m not sure I get the link with the constituents.

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  14. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Mick, you’re flogging a horse so dead that Dr Frankenstein couldn’t bring it back.

    No, that’s absolutely right CS. They only take two thirds of an MLAs net salary

    You have at this point abandoned any vestiges of impartiality and are spinning this matter to present the story in a particular manner.

    Prospective Sinn Féin MLA candidates agree to surrender that proportion of their salary in exchange for the party’s endorsement as a candidate. You may think this is a technicality, but it isn’t.

    It is entirely normal for political parties to require that MLAs and MPs donate a proportion of their salary into supporting the party. The only thing unusual about SF’s case is the proportion they supposedly require.

    I would also highlight that the only source for the idea that SF MLAs receive an average wage is .. SF themselves. We have no actual evidence that SF MLAs donate all their salary to the party. I’ve no reason to doubt that it is the case, but I also have no reason to doubt that the party on some occasions probably “pays” MLAs a little extra by refunding their “contributions” – all of which would be above board and quite legal with no extra tax falling due.

    Gerry Adams got his money from somewhere to fly to the USA for eye surgery at a private clinic. That was probably paid for out of his MLA/MP or TD salary (depending on when it was done). Sinn Féin cannot simply pay out cash money to an individual, or pay for goods or services on behalf of a person, because that person would then become liable for additional income tax. So rather than pay tax twice the “donation to the party” would simply be refunded. I very much doubt it’s the first time it ever happened, or that Adams is the only SF rep in that position.

    As I have said repeatedly, the only action that Sinn Féin can take against an MLA is to deselect them as an MLA. Which is the only option available to any political party which wants to get rid of a troublesome politician. And even that doesn’t always work – I refer the gentleman to the case of David McClarty.

    and use a private company to disperse all secretarial and research services: http://goo.gl/TCt2aA.

    You are, much to my genuine surprise, completely wrong.

    Secretarial and research services are funded out of the Office Cost Allowance. They are not funded out of donations to parties. Furthermore, parties up at the assembly are paid additional party allowances supporting basic staffing and a press official, if I recall correctly. I’m sorry to say this but I would expect someone engaging in journalism in Northern Ireland and commenting on matters involving the Assembly’s operation and financial controls to know this.

    Sinn Féin are doing nothing illegal or against the rules by employing a firm to handle their secretarial, research and press services provided that individual MLAs declare any pecuniary interest they have in the firm (which is, you will recall, where Conal McD slipped up).

    Once again, MLAs must sign off their OCA to the effect that it was spent on appropriate services and that an appropriate or standard price was charged for those services. Since these allowances are provided under the aegis of a HMRC P11 dispensation, they are liable to audit by HMRC. Any company that submits bills to MLAs or parties to be paid through that allowance must also maintain appropriate records in the event that HMRC were to audit them. Company accounts will be signed off by a certified accountant, who I can assure you is not going to risk his or her professional standing – or potential prosecution – in order to allow a party to embezzle funds by inappropriate means.

    Nothing to see here, move along please?

    That’s pretty much it.

    The issues you are highlighting are things that all the political parties are engaged in. They all hire friends and family, or party colleagues, for paid work. They all use firms which they know or which are sympathetic to their respective causes for any services they require.

    There is no shortage of things that I dislike about Sinn Féin. But they are not – as a party – stupid enough to try to pull off any funny stunts with expenses or doing anything that stands out from what any of the other parties do, with the exception of MLA donations to party funds which are frankly a matter for the MLA and for them.

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