“The Belfast Telegraph offered the party an opportunity to comment..”

The Belfast Telegraph’s David Gordon has uncovered the detail that Sinn Fein MLAs claimed £513,682 of their annual office expenses on secretarial and research services billed to their own party.

The £513,682 total went to Sinn Fein in the financial year 2007/08 from the office-running allowances available to Assembly members. Payments were largely listed as “Members Party Secretarial Expenses” within the category of “advisory and consultancy costs”. They have been disclosed by Stormont officials under freedom of information, as part of a breakdown of sums claimed by MLAs in the 12-month |period. Some members from other parties also made payments to their own parties for secretarial and research services during the year. But the sums involved were not on the same scale as the Sinn Fein arrangements.

That could be an example of the centralised control of the party machine, or an indication of a “what’s left in the allowance?” approach.Also from the Belfast Telegraph report

Sinn Fein also receives a party grant from the House of Commons, despite the refusal of its MPs to take their seats.

Its Westminster grant for the current financial year is £93,639, according to the Commons.

The party’s five MPs do not receive salaries from Westminster, but are entitled to a range of parliamentary expenses, covering such areas as staffing, constituency office costs, London living costs and travel.

In 2007/08, Sinn Fein MPs claimed £681,235 in Commons expenses.

The five politicians are also senior MLAs and received £338,840 in Stormont expenses in the same 12-month period.