No sightings reported of Sinn Fein MPs at claimed for London properties

Sinn Fein MPs’ expenses were already revealed last month, along with Jacqui Smith’s husband’s porn videos and the 88p bath plug. What the Sunday Telegraph adds is local witnesses at the properties involved. Here we have it, the shadowy presence, the rentals that seem higher than current market value, the oddly uniform claims for TVs etc. All of it, just another example of typical Sinn Fein solidarity. When Gordon Brown announced last month that Sinn Fein abstentionism would be given separate consideration in his ill-fated daily attendance allowance plan, I dissented from the general view that this was bound to mean their claims woiuld continue to be accepted. I’m even more sure now that they won’t, although something like a daily actuality claim may be allowed for each of their London visits. Key details of the story below the fold . “Gerry Adams, the party leader, and Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, jointly claimed expenses of £3,600 a month to rent a shared two-bedroom flat in north London. A local estate agent, who knows the properties, said a fair monthly rent for the flat would be £1,400.
he three other Sinn Fein MPs together claimed £5,400 a month to rent a shared, modern town house, which the estate agent said would rent on the open market for around £1,800 a month. At other times some of the MPs have stayed in a third property, another two-bedroom flat.

The five Sinn Fein MPs have claimed more than £310,000 in five years from the public purse by submitting receipts from one man, an Irish landlord living in London, and his family.

Immediate neighbours of the three north London properties, which are all part of the same development, could not recall seeing any of the five MPs when shown photographs of them.

Neighbours of the three-storey town house where three MPs – Michelle Gildernew, Pat Doherty and Conor Murphy – claimed expenses last year, could not recognise the politicians in photographs shown to them by The Sunday Telegraph. One resident, who did not want to be named, said that the yellow-brick house was a rental property where young professionals appeared to “come and go”.

One resident, who helps run the development, said of the MPs: “They do not live here. I have never seen them, although I do recognise from the photos that they are something to do with Sinn Fein.” ”

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London