“I think that’s the reason our costs are high..”

On Stormont Live yesterday, the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, put forward a typically combative defence of his, and each of the SF MP’s, less than transparent claims for the equivalent to an “average industrial wage” from the MPs’ second homes allowance. But it’s worth paying close attention to what he actually says. For example, despite his claim, Sinn Féin are not “denied” the Communications Allowance. Like a number of other MPs [pdf file], they have chosen not to claim it since it was introduced in 2007/8 – as Gerry Adams has already stated. Perhaps it’s just a more strictly defined allowance only to be used for specific purposes, such as the independently minded North Down MP’s website. And whilst his party’s president had no idea who the landlord was, Martin McGuinness felt able to assert that the landlord was not a donor to Sinn Féin – “in my information, absolutely not”. The security concerns may sound reasonable at first, but it wasn’t included in Gerry Adams’ otherwise comprehensive list of what the rent covered. And why does he only “think that’s the reason our costs are high..” Doesn’t he know what he we are paying for? The SF MPs are, of course, treated differently to everybody else.. If they weren’t they wouldn’t be able to claim the expenses they do. But perhaps the proposed reform of the system can remedy that logic defying position..