“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..

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  • Big Maggie

    “But perhaps the proposed reform of the system can remedy that logic defying position.. ”

    Speaking of logic, I wonder what would happen were the oath of allegiance to the queen and her successors abolished. Is there a logical reason why a member of parliament should swear an oath to an individual (the monarch) rather than to the people whom s/he represents? We’re not living in the time of Cleopatra after all.

    An MP doesn’t work for the queen but for his/her constituents and the nation as a whole. I say ditch the oath as the anachronism it is, let Martin McGuinness and the other SF MPs take their seats and empower them to truly represent the interests of their electorate. It is after all the largest nationalist constituency in NI.

  • kensei

    But perhaps the proposed reform of the system can remedy that logic defying position..

    Why is “logic defying”. In computer parlance, the presence of abstentionist MPs is simply an edge.

    “I do not think abstentionist MPs should get any money” does not equal “Abstentionist MPs getting money defies logic”, no matter how you try Pete.

  • alan56

    BM

    If the oath were dispensed with would the SF MPs take their seats?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Why is “logic defying”. In computer parlance, the presence of abstentionist MPs is simply an edge.

    I’ve never heard that piece of computer parlance. Unless you’re talking about digital logic ?

  • Pete Baker

    Ken

    You need to watch the video to, hopefully, get the reference.

  • Dave

    They’re trying to hide behind ‘security concerns’ since if these were actual and not expedient then they would use hotels and not fixed addresses. Essentially they are playing the security card to discourage identification of the properties in the media because, rather obviously, if the streets were known then anybody with an Internet connection would be able to find out what comparable properties rent for in those streets.

    If the Sunday Telegraph is wrong in the valuations it has attached to the properties then the Shinners would prove by simply getting 3 independent valuations done. Why don’t they do this? Until they do, there is no reason to assume that the independent valuations that the Sunday Telegraph secured are wrong. Since they are paying 257% higher than market value for the flat and paying 300% higher than market value for the townhouse, there is a clear breach of 3.3.1. under the Principles section of the Green Book which imposes a responsibility on members “to obtain value for money from accommodation”. As they have breached the conditions of their contract, it should be declared void and the money returned to the taxpayer.

  • alan56

    Did I break the rules Pete?

  • Pete Baker

    Just try to keep to the topic, alan.

    There’s enough here to discuss already.

  • alan56

    Pete

    Fair enough.

  • MacBeth

    Commons Speaker Michael Martin was forced to resign because of this scandal. It is time for Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness to do likewise. Both should be ashamed of their fiddling and chancing and fraudsterism.
    The only remedy is to stand down.

  • BonarLaw

    This nauseating exercise in dane geld politics will expire with the New Labour project within the year.

    For the sake of our high street banks, post offices and cash in transit vans I hope Provo pension liabilities can be met from existing funds.

  • BonarLaw

    MacBeth

    please provide evidence of fiddling and fraudsterism.

    AFIK Robinsons’ total expenses claims for the last year for which figures are available were less than any of the non-attending Shinners.

  • kensei

    Pete

    Flashblock for the win, after the amount of annoying flash ads that appeared on this site

    CS

    I’ve never heard that piece of computer parlance. Unless you’re talking about digital logic

    It’s a test term. Exhaustive testing is impossible; the range of possible inputs is too great for all but the most trivial programmes. So you have to partition your data (“equivalence partitioning”). E.g. Valid Input Range is 0-100

    So you have

    Invalid1 = < 0 Test Value = -1 Valid 0-100 Test Value = 6 Invalid2 > 100 Test Value 300
    (Invalid3 Decimals Test Value 3.33 and so on…..)

    You can partition on other things too, e.g. perhaps a particular input has a specific piece of logic. You’ll definitely want to test that.

    Due to how if logic is constructed in computer programs, people might write if ( x >= 10) when they mean if( x > 10) so you test the boundaries. Different ways of doing it but you want to test -1,0,1 and 99,100,101 to ensure correct behaviour – your edge cases.

    That is the basic example; sometimes you want the conditions around the boundaries to have different behaviour. It can also be used more generally for exceptional or extreme cases.

    It probably is used in other types of engineer, but any IT project will be full of them. Infomercial over.

  • redhugh78

    What a non-story.
    Fair play to SF putting all their wages back into the party and then recieving an industrial wage, I suspect we’d be waiting a while for the other parties to follow this example.

  • Pete Baker

    Well, Ken, come back and comment when you’ve watched the video.

  • BonarLaw

    redhugh78

    Expenses, not wages is what makes this a story.

  • dunreavynomore

    I would still love to know how much these people (all sides) recieve as Stormont expenses.

  • BonarLaw

    dunreavynomore

    well, you could always have a look on the Assembly website…

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    The ridiculous attempt of this thread to compare allegations/suspicions of overcharging by SF for property from which they do nor personally benefit with the trousering of thousands by various over-eaters and moat cleaners is simply counter-productive as the more we hear from SF the greater the contrast between them and all the troughing parties.

    Keep up the good work Pete.

    Contrast Marty’s and Grizzly’s polished performances on this issue with Gregory Campbell’s absolute scorcher that – many of his friends thought he should have spent even more taxpayers money.

  • Pete Baker

    Sammy Mac

    That would be “Marty’s and Grizzly’s polished”, and contradictory, “performances”.

  • kensei

    Pete

    You could actually do a post without snarks for once instead. I have a horrible habit of taking people at face value.

  • Big Maggie

    Alan56,

    “If the oath were dispensed with would the SF MPs take their seats?”

    I don’t see why not. The oath has always been their bone of contention. Mine too mind you even though I’m not an SF supporter. It’s antediluvian and should follow Gorbals Mick into the sunset.

  • alan56

    BM

    I thought that it went deeper than just the oath. It was the fact of taking part in the affairs of the UK Parliament. I’m not sure. Mabe some of the SF experts out there could let us know.

  • Pete Baker

    Ken

    Scepticism, but not cynicism, is the correct approach. Not “taking people at face value.”

    But you shouldn’t voluntarily exclude yourself from all the necessary, and in this case essential, information.

    Maggie

    I’m sure there’s a reference in the Slugger archive to a SF MP – Pat Doherty I think – declaring that a change to the oath would make no difference to their abstentionist policy.

  • alan56

    This is important. If SF are not taking their seats because of the oath then that, if questionable, is understandable. If it is not just that then it calls into question whether they are really serious about representing their constituents where all the big ie. money decisions are taken.

  • Kensei

    Pete

    But you shouldn’t voluntarily exclude yourself from all the necessary, and in this case essential, information.

    I grew up with MTV. You need to get your point across quicker.

  • Pete Baker

    Perhaps you should stick to reading the tabloids then, Ken?

    Or just continue to encourage those who disagree with you to “go away”?

    The relevant information to the post is both linked and provided – via the video.

    If you exclude yourself from that information then you have only yourself to blame when you get something wrong.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Pete,

    are you fecking serious – next revelation – 2 SF statements dont match
    eactly.

    Hint: When you are trying to prove something and you have very little evidence dont make it so fecking obvious.

    Seeing this is simply an anti-SF propagandist thread I will post part of SFs position from the link you kindly provided which would shame all the troughing parties.

    SF Challenges other Parties on Westminster Expenses

    Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP MLA has today called on all political parties to publish full accounts of monies they receive in salaries and allowances.Mr. Adams said: “The electorate has the right to expect the highest standards from those holding public office and to be confident that taxpayer’s money is being used properly.”

    “There is deep public anger over the abuse of allowances by MPs at Westminster.

    There is anger at the systematic ripping off of tax payer’s money from those elected to high office and anger at the complete lack of transparency and accountability.

    Not only does the system need to change, there is a need for a change in political culture.

    For several years now Sinn Féin has voluntarily published our full annual accounts, north and south and in the USA.

    We do this because we believe that this is something to which the electorate is entitled. We have repeatedly called on other parties to do the same but in the majority of cases they refuse to do so.

    Sinn Féin MPs, like all party members who are paid a wage, receive exactly the same average industrial wage which is £356 per week, net.

    There is no personal or self-gain by Sinn Féin MPs in respect of monies or allowances paid by Westminster.

    Over the last number of days there have been some wildly inaccurate and political biased reports about Sinn Féin MPs. The facts are very simple.

    Sinn Féin MPs do not take our seats at Westminster but we represent our constituents every single day of the week on social and economic matters and in relation to the peace process.

    We do so in Ireland and in London. In order to represent our constituents we employ a number of staff. We also have office facilities and accommodation in London.

    And in the interests of full disclosure we are publishing the full breakdown of staff costs, travel, administration and accommodation allowances. Other parties should do the same.

    The British government refuses to pay Sinn Féin MPs our salaries and other grants which all other Westminster MPs receive. Over the last five years this has amounted to almost £2 million.

    There are also a number of allowances, which we do not claim.

    And Sinn Féin MP’s who become Ministers do not claim for constituency travel allowances.

    Sinn Féin and those who vote for us expect the highest standards from all of our public representatives. We will continue to act in an open and transparent manner. And we will do all that we can to end the corrupt political culture which operates on both parts of this island.

  • Pete Baker

    Sammy Mac

    “are you fecking serious – next revelation – 2 SF statements dont match eactly.”

    I know. Consistency is not their forté.

    But it is an important point to note.

  • Big Maggie

    Alan56,

    “I thought that it went deeper than just the oath. It was the fact of taking part in the affairs of the UK Parliament. I’m not sure. Mabe some of the SF experts out there could let us know.”

    I don’t know either. Perhaps a resident Shinner can enlighten us. I do know that the inimitable El Blogador posted this at one time:

    “Given that the Stormont Assembly has been given its devolved powers from Westminster and that all primary NI legislation still must go through the Westminster Parliament, Sinn Féin’s abstentionism in London is akin to taking seats on a subcommittee but refusing to sit on the committee itself.”

    Sounds reasonable enough to me.

  • Kensei

    Pete

    Perhaps you should stick to reading the tabloids then, Ken?

    But the sport sections are really good.

    Or just continue to encourage those who disagree with you to “go away”?

    That was in response to a smart arse comment and in fairness, I was in all kinds of pain at time. I regretted it the next morning, and dealt with the reply in a better manner. Hey, no one is perfect.

    If you exclude yourself from that information then you have only yourself to blame when you get something wrong.

    Depends what you mean by “getting it wrong”. I didn’t catch the link, but having watched it, I’m not sure the meaning behind the sentence differs, but with added dig at MMG.

    But really this is little to do with actual post now and more about getting the last word. I think you are perceiving an attitude that really isn’t there. I know I like to abuse you Pete, but its just a bit of light hearted banter. In any case this is simply derailing your thread so I am going to shut up.

  • Big Maggie

    Kensei,

    “I know I like to abuse you Pete”

    Too much information :^)

  • joeCanuck

    the Shinners would prove by simply getting 3 independent valuations done. Why don’t they do this?

    Dave,
    Perhaps because, as you apparently aren’t aware of, in our system of jurisprudence people do not have to prove their innocence.

  • Dave

    Joe, do try to keep up: the court is public opinion, so jurisprudence is irrelevant. If it becomes a legal matter (and it should be since they are in clear violation of the rules under which they defrauded the money), then they will, contrary to your assumption, have to prove that the rents were not 257% higher than market value for the flat and 300% higher than market value for the townhouse – that they obtained “value for money from accommodation”. That will be done by independent valuations which dispute the independent valuations which claim that the rents are inflated.