Sinn Féin "in the red"

Another interesting report in the Irish Times, Sinn Féin in the red for the first time in years. According to Sinn Féin’s Finance Director, Dessie Mackin The party’s accounts for the year 2004 will be published in April and will show that it is “in the red for about €400,000” – that’s the party’s head office accounts, which for 2003 showed a surplus of €271,358, and for 2002 recorded a surplus of €188,639.

Some detail of SF’s Head Office accounts, and official assets, are given –

Mr Mackin said the party owns numbers 44 and 58 Parnell Square, Dublin, and 51, Falls Road. Its accounts give a value of €1.88 million to these buildings. Number 58 Parnell Square was bought in 1984 for Ir£47,000.

“We’ve benefited from the boom,” he said.

Number 51-55 Falls Road, Belfast, is owned by a company called Sevastapol Developments, on behalf of the party, which leases it.

Wages and salaries in 2003 were €550,190. Mr Mackin said everyone employed by head office gets the same salary, €500 a week gross. There were 22 positions during 2003 in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Secretaries and assistants employed by elected representatives are not paid by the party but by the British and Irish exchequers.

Additionally local cumainn’s accounts are not included in the head office accounts –

Local cumainn also raise finance and own or rent property, and their finances are not included in the head office accounts. Most properties owned have mortgages against them.

Mr Mackin produced a list showing 16 properties in the Republic and 31 in Northern Ireland, that are owned or leased by local party units. He said 5, Blessington Street, Dublin, was sold by the party a few years ago.

Ownership of 44 Parnell Square goes back to 1911, he said.

Recently the party had set up two companies, Republican Merchandising Ltd and Parnell Publications Ltd, which are concerned with, respectively, the party’s Dublin shop and internet site, and its newspaper, An Phoblacht.

As the companies were only recently set up, no accounts have yet been filed. The setting up of the companies will mean the party will save on VAT payments.

Mr Mackin said operations such as the Felons Club in Belfast are heavily regulated and have nothing to do with Sinn Féin’s finances. “Apart from merchandising, we have no other form of business whatsoever,” he said.

The article finishes with some details of Mr Mackin’s own business dealings –

Mr Mackin, a native of Belfast, was joint Sinn Féin national treasurer with the late Joe Cahill for 10 years up to about four years ago, when the party established the position of finance director.

He is a member of the ardcomhairle. Arrested in 1972, he served three years in prison in the North for membership of the IRA.

He said he was always interested in business and this was why he worked on the party’s finances.

He said that “around about the time of the ceasefire” he became more involved in his personal business affairs and now owns businesses and property here and property in Portugal.

His first business venture was a pool hall in Dundalk, where he now lives. He secured loans from the bank to buy and develop the business, he said.

He made investments in property in Dublin “for tax reasons” in the period before property prices in the city began to rise steeply.

Working with an old friend based in Belfast, he established a cleaning company and a security services company. Both of these were involved in supplying services to the Sheridan IMX cinema complex on Parnell Street, Dublin and other companies in the area.

The Sheridan businesses collapsed a number of years ago though the operation of one, Century City, an amusement arcade, has since been taken on by Mr Mackin.

No doubt some wag will ask whether these figures include all recent transactions.. and, according to the Electoral Commission, with representation in either Westminster, the NI Assembly or the European Parliament, a political party is required to have an accounting year of 1 January to 31 December.

But the cynic in me has to note the fact that in a 2003 High Court judgement, in SF’s failed appeal against the refusal of an Electoral Commission policy development grant, specific mention was made of the fact that “there was no suggestion that Sinn Fein was so lacking in financial resources that its failure to receive the grant would prevent it from imparting information or ideas, or from developing policies for electioneering”.. hmmm.. Will that decision now face a renewed legal challenge?

  • Young Fogey

    Maybe that’s why the ‘Ra had to go out and rob a few banks?

  • peteb

    *ahem*

    “No doubt some wag will ask whether these figures include all recent transactions..”

  • Ringo

    Fantasy stuff. A bit like the prince Charles’ ‘voluntary’ tax returns.

  • El Matador

    I’m sure selling badges of people who starved themselves to death raises them plenty of money for SF. Maybe that’s why the army council (apparently) let them die by rejecting british offers of a deal.

  • smcgiff

    A clear case of Off Balance Sheet Financing if there ever was one!

  • J Kelly

    El Matador its this type of snide remark and innuendo that has left your party in the political wilderness.

  • George

    El Matador,
    I think I’d have to agree with J Kelly on that.

    Is that all you have to say?

    I do remember this quote about the SDLP from a tape made by the prisoners which I came across once and which was requoted by Anthony McIntyre:

    ‘This party should now be recognised for what it is, an amalgamation of middle class Redmondites, devoid of principle, direction and courage. This party is spineless and weak and is very capable of selling out to unionist intimidators for imperialist perks. Their whole leadership combined do not possess a fraction of the moral fibre demonstrated so valiantly by our comrades’.

    SDLP obviously haven’t moved on much in 24 years.

  • Ringo

    devoid of principle

    surely their rejection of violence as a means to attain their political goals counts as a principle? In most societies it mightn’t be remarkable – but it wasn’t necessarily the choice of all the parties around them.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    What has the SDLP done about the lack of rejection of violence by others?

  • The Devil

    Sinn Fein in the >>>RED

    RED……………

    RED………..

    REAL RED………..

    AS IN REDDER THAN PINK……….

    STRONGER THAN ORANGE………….

    PETE ME THINKS YOUR HAVIN’ A LAUGH WITH THAT POST

  • peteb

    Now, now, Mr D. It is a direct quote from the article and, in fact, a quote from SF’s own Finance Director.

  • aquifer

    Its like watching a building burn down.

  • Hardy Handshake

    The insurance on the Falls Road place must be fierce altogether – I hope they have an effective security firm looking after it.

  • Ringo

    Belfast Gonzo-
    What has the SDLP done about the lack of
    rejection of violence by others?

    led by example?