Where Sinn Fein's money comes from…

This is getting to be something a bad soap opera. The Irish Independent claims that the party has claimed more than €1.5m from the Republic’s taxpayers last year. The Labour party has produced a draft Electoral (Amendment) Bill to give effect to law that could suspend payments to the party in the Republic as well as Stormont.

“Under such a law, the biggest potential loss for Sinn Fein would be its annual Party Leader’s Allowance which came to €285,550 last year and which is intended to fund parliamentary research and policy. As the Provisionals’ best-known Oireachtas research recently has been a spying operation targeting government ministers and TDs, a case could be made for withholding the Party Leader’s Allowance”.

“In 2004, Sinn Fein qualified for an additional windfall worth €310,730 in reimbursements from the Department of Finance following the local and European elections. While the party declared an expenditure of €313,939 and 81c in the European election campaign, it was repaid €38,092 for each of its four candidates. At the same time, its 25 candidates in the local elections received a combined reimbursement payment of nearly €160,000”.

By contrast, the Progressive Democrats, home of Justice Minister and Sinn Fein bete noire Michael McDowell, did not receive a cent from the taxpayer for last year’s Euro elections as it did not field a candidate. The year before, it qualified for €303,264 Exchequer funding, compared to Sinn Fein’s €416,566.