“He’s promised they will be reasonably priced..”

With a new regime for MP’s allowances on the cards Sinn Féin have, apparently, decided that their expensive rental agreements with an un-named Irish landlord for underused properties in London no longer represent best value for public money. Still no word on Adams’ additional utilities bill. Hotels will replace those rented properties. Just be careful which films you choose to view, guys.. But Martina Purdy has a question

He’s promised they will be reasonably priced – whatever they cost they couldn’t cost as much as the £500,000 chaulked up in rent over several years. Especially when Sinn Fein’s MPs were hardly ever in London as they don’t attend Parliament. One thing the statement didn’t say – what’s going to happen to the furnishings which include venetian blinds, and tv sets purchased by the taxpayer?

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  • Sean

    Hey pete is there anything left on that axe to grind you must be to the handle by now?

  • Dec

    Especially when Sinn Fein’s MPs were hardly ever in London as they don’t attend Parliament.

    No doubt Martina has the facts to back that assumption claim up.

    Any word on the Robinsons’ dietary changes in the aftermath of the expenses scandal?

  • Dec

    whatever they cost they couldn’t cost as much as the £500,000 chaulked up in rent over several years.

    Given the actual figure chaulked up in rent was £310,000 over 5 years, I’ll assume the answer to my earlier question would be a resounding ‘No’.

  • YelloSmurf

    Dec, it’s still a lot of money for two flats.

  • Dec

    YelloSmurf

    I think the figures account for 3 properties. The point at this stage is that Sinn Fein are actually rectifying the situation and the usual suspects have seized upon the chance to reheat an old story with some incredibly sloppy research (unless you think almost 200K isn’t a lot of money.)

  • Gerry

    Pete,

    You can have the venetian blinds ffs!!

  • YelloSmurf

    Dec,

    OK then, three properties. It’s a lot of money for MPs who are very rarely in London (or at least, have no reason to be in London very often).
    I agree that it’s a bit of a storm in a tea-cup, and am pleased that Sinn Féin are going to rectify the situation.

    Having said that, it is still legitimate to question how they got into that situation in the situation in the first place, especailly in a place like Slugger

  • milo

    Will the hotels/b&bs;/hostels they stay at be owned by an unnamed Irish landlord?

  • Neil

    To bolster Dec’s point: 310,000 for 5 MPs over 5 years equls 12,400 per year or just over 1,000 pounds a month. Move on nothing to see here.

    Especially when Sinn Fein’s MPs were hardly ever in London as they don’t attend Parliament.

    Hold up. They never attend parliament so by that rationale they are never in London, I mean if you’re going to link being in London with being in parliament then they would never be in London full stop. But that’s not right is it, I mean people can legitimately travel to London and not attend parliament, why I did it myself just last year.

    Meanwhile the Robbo’s claim 30,000 just for food over four years which equates to 625 quid a month (not taking into account the fact that Westminster is closed for about 3 months a year). That’s not to mention the 520,000 they creamed off between them, but hey don’t let that stop you all focussing on the paltry SF expenses of just over a grand a month, the Robbos are entitled, they’re not in SF.

    This is all bullshit misdirection to try and draw people away from the fact that the DUP have done very very nicely financially out of the troubles. The reason they keep casting SF up despite the truly small amount of money when compared with other politicians (in NI and abroad) is because so many people are more than happy to vilify SF anyway, expenses or no.

  • YelloSmurf

    people can legitimately travel to London and not attend parliament, why I did it myself just last year.

    Not at tax payers’ expence.

  • Neil

    Will the hotels/b&bs;/hostels they stay at be owned by an unnamed Irish landlord?

    Probably not, as there are few hotels owned by unnamed Irish people, how ever I’m curious as to what your point/problem with that is? If you were at risk of assasination I assume you would take out a half page ad in the Daily Mail stating your address? Oooops no, you wouldn’t, because that would be fucking insanely stupid.

  • Pete Baker

    Dec, Neil, et al

    If you have a problem with “usual suspect” Martina Purdy’s figures, I suggest you take it up with her. But I don’t see where she’s restricted that sum to covering only 5 years?

    As for the research into this post.

    Feel free to follow the links.

    That’s why they’re there.

    YelloSmurf

    Before praising them for “rectifying” the situation, as Dec would have us believe is happening, ask yourself whether their previous expensive arrangements would pass in the new regime.

  • Neil

    Yes at tax payers expense Yellow Smurf. You ned to check your rule book, but that’s exactly what they are allowed to do, and that’s what they did.

    SF are under no circumstances allowed to take their seats in Westminster, this would be the ultimate betrayal of Republicanism. When Tony was negotiating with Adams and Paisley, it was necessary (some people might even say it was a good thing) for SF to be in London to negotiate peace.

    The tax payer invested in Gerry’s accomodation and flights so that he could be there to negotiate the peace. Perhaps you are of the opinion that we would have been better if we’d continued the violence, that’s fair enough. But most people here were quite happy to see Gerry in London, on taxpayers expense and on SF business to meet with Blair as it helped bring about peace, and still those pesky shinners didn’t betray all those who voted for them and take their seats.

    Straight question, would you prefer SF had travelled to London on peace processing business paid for by the tax payer and achieved this peace? Or would you pinch penny’s and say that in order to achieve peace SF had to take their seats in order to get their travel to London paid for?

    So tell me Yellow Smurf: Peace or War? Expenses for peace processing or no?

    The truth is the English wanted Sinn Fein to negotiate so that in the end less English cities would be bombed, British soldiers killed etc. so why should the English not pay for what they want, or are you suggesting that Gerry should have shouldered the cost out of his own pocket?

  • John O’Connell

    Didn’t SF criticise Eddie McGrady for using hotels rather than renting? The hypocrites.

  • Richard Aardvark

    So Neil,

    If Adams didn’t get his junkets to London the IRA would still be murdering any hun it could?

  • Neil

    JOC,

    Any comment on the following in that case?

    Mr. Eddie McGrady, M.P. for South Down, claimed £2000 for for the cost of eight nights’ accommodation between April and July 2007, the fees office did not question it.

    However, when he also tried to charge £1,562 for food, £184 for telephone and £826 for “laundry, sundries etc”, one official scrawled next to the claim “8 days?” The bill was not paid.

    So that’s 4,572 pounds for 8 days. Justify it John, I’m waiting.

    Richard,

    I doubt it, though I’m not a member so I can’t specify. Personally I believe that Gerry was looking for a way out, and probably would have paid out of his own pocket (or out of the RA’s coffers). The point I make is that it was a tiny, tiny investment to achieve peace, and one that has paid dividends ten times over in the past ten years.

    It’s all irrelevant at any rate, SF broke no rules and took considerably less than most others. They are concentrated upon because people hate them already, and they make an easy target to deflect attention from the Swish family Robinson who took vast sums of money by comparison.

  • cynic

    “If you were at risk of assasination”

    ….from who? Twaddle. They are mnore aty risk from the usuaal backstabbing within the party

  • milo

    Neil
    “as there are few hotels owned by unnamed Irish people”

    I really don’t know what to do with this (above) statement. Never hear of a silent or sleeping partner?

    It’s pretty obvious what my point was, and its pretty obviously had fr*g all to do with assassination and advertising with the daily mail but rather more to do with “jobs for the boys” with my taxes and giving some slum landlord inflated rent.

  • cynic

    Errrr ….. in all the defensive posts here a small nugget seems to be lost ………. its estimated that they (ie all the rest of us who pick up the bill) were paying many times the going rate for the accommodation. Why?

  • cynic

    Were the TVs they bought specially tuned to exclude British channels, show continuous GAA matches or provide simultaneous translation of all programmes into Irish and Ulster Scots?? Does that explain the huge costs?

  • Neil

    Cynic,

    there are plenty of far right groups in engerland, some of the fascist web sites have named SF members by name along with threats. It’s easy to be blase about other people’s safety, especially people you dislike.

    I would suggest however if you were mentioned on fascist far right organisation’s web site as a target, you wouldn’t be keen to unnecessarily point out your precise location to them for no reason what so ever.

    The reason they keep their location as secret as possible is for security reasons, I’m questioning why Milo believes they should make this information public. Given they have no reason to do so, I’m wondering what the problem is.

  • Neil

    but rather more to do with “jobs for the boys” with my taxes and giving some slum landlord inflated rent

    They stay in slums now do they? LOL I think not. Again no rules broken, the reason given by SF for keeping the identity of their landlord secret was for security reasons. Give me a reason (and try to bear in mind no rules have been broken) why they would out this landlord?

    Were the TVs they bought specially tuned to exclude British channels, show continuous GAA matches or provide simultaneous translation of all programmes into Irish and Ulster Scots?? Does that explain the huge costs?

    I really didn’t think 250 quid was expensive for a TV. Now what about those Robinsons? No one? Thought so. They must be entitled due to being, well you know, prods.

    John, where are you? Eddie McGrady’s expenses based on those eight days, multiplied by 2.5 (20 days per month) multiplied by 9 (three months off per year) gives us a figure of 102,870 pounds. Come on John, the SDLP are so honest and decent and not scamming the system, let’s hear the justification for that four and a half thousand for 8 days accomodation, food and laundry.

  • Dave

    It was a good scam while it lasted but they obviously never considered that the details of it might be leaked to a newspaper, leaving the scammers exposed to public scrutiny.

    The maximum ACA allowance is £23,083 per year per MP, so the clever part of the scam was to double-up on the ACA claim by sharing a flat between 2 MPs (Gerry and Martin) and treble-up on a house for the other three MPs. That allowed them to have minimum rent while claiming maximum allowance, thereby maximising their profits at the expense of the taxpayer.

    The scam only works if you inflate the rental value of the property to a figure that is within the maximum ACA allowance. For example, the three MPs share a property for that has a market value of £1,800 a month. They then inflate the rental value to £5,400 a month (£64,800 a year or just short of the maximum ACA allowance of £69,249 a year [3 x £23,083]). That leaves them with a gross profit of £3,600 a month or £43,200 a year (£14,400 each). However, if they each rented a property for £1,800 a month (£21,600 a year) and then inflated the rent to claim the maximum ACA allowance of £23,083, then their profit on the scam would have been limited to a maximum of £1483 each instead of £14,400 each, so they can scam almost 10 times the amount from the taxpayer by sharing than they can scam by renting separately.

    The same scam operates in the inflation of the rental value of Gerry and Martin’s flat. They share a flat that has a market value of £1,400 a month but for which they claim an inflated rent of £3,600 a month (£43,200 a year or just short of the ACA joint allowance of £46,166 a year [2 x £23,083]). That leaves them with a gross profit of £2,200 a month or £26,400 a year (£13,200 each).

    This, however, is not within the rules since they are required “to obtain value for money from accommodation”. Clearly, paying 257% higher than market value for Gerry and Martin’s flat and 300% higher than market value for the other three MPs house is not “value for money” and is, ergo, a breach of the rules. Likewise, they tried to explain that the rents were above market value because they included services that they were not in fact entitled to claim for under the rules.

    Their sudden desire “to obtain value for money from accommodation” is not a case of these scammers being ‘reformed’ but rather a case of hem jumping before they are pushed by reform of the system to exclude these scams from operating.

  • cynic

    Given they have no reason to do so, I’m wondering what the problem is.

    Where have you been for the last 3 months if you dont know what the problem with MPs expenses is and why there is reason to know what the huge amounts of public money are being spent on

  • fin

    is it true the Robinsons have pledged to go on a diet?

  • cynic

    Fin

    You seem to have athing about teh Robinsons.

    Are you in love? With which one?

  • John O’Connell

    So that’s 4,572 pounds for 8 days. Justify it John, I’m waiting.

    He was having a good time. How else can you justify it?

    At least he wasn’t done over by a corrupt landlord. Actually I hear their landlord was from Derry and is a big fan of SF. So they were repaying his loyalty with preferential rates paid by the taxpayer. I think that is real corruption, not how an old age pensioner MP spends his week.

  • oldruss

    Were the SF expenditures in violation of the rules of the Honorable House of Commons, or were they merely embarrassing when published?

    If they were in violation of the rules, would not the Honorable House of Commons mete out an appropriate sanction? Perhaps ban the offending members from taking their seats for, say, 30 days.

    On the other hand if the expenditures were merely embarrassing, then I suppose the voters of the respective constituencies can pass judgment on the scallywags at the next election. MY guess is that all five, Adams, McGuinness, Doherty, Gildernew and Murphy, will be reelected if they stand for the next general election.

  • Dave

    John, it’s not a case of being “done over” by a third party. The onus is on the “member” claiming the ACA allowance “to obtain value for money from accommodation” and not the landlord to provide value for the member.

    If you think that Gerry and Martin took the risk of paying £5400 a month for a property that was only worth £1800 because they wanted to enrich a landlord at the taxpayers’ expense and not themselves, then I think you are being a tad naive. I would suggest that the landlord was not the ultimate beneficiary of the extra £43200 a year in inflated rent.

    By the way, the reason the IRA stopped their bombing campaign in Derry was that they by the end of the campaign they invested in so much property in the city at rock bottom prices (thanks to being said bombing campaign) that they couldn’t avoid bombing their own buildings. Never mind the TVs and venetian blinds, what happened to the IRA’s vast property empire? 😉

  • Treated like shit and living on ‘rations’. How is one to survive without the odd expenses ‘oversight’?

  • John O’Connell

    Dave

    It would have been their ineptitude that resulted in them being “done over” were it not for the fact that the landlord was one of their supporters and was in all likelihood transferring the monies back to the party. I find it highly unlikely that these people enriched themselves and not the party. To conclude that would be the height of cynicism. I hope I don’t seem too naive but parties fall over backwards to give contributors a good impression and I think therefore that they wouldn’t just take backhanders from him.

  • fin

    Cynic, scuse me, how often do I mention the Robinsons? feel free to search Slugger and let me know, although to be honest I am a bit of a foodie so I do admire their ability to get through how many 000’s of pounds worth of grub the odd time they bother to attend Westminister.

    John, I suppose, looking on the bright, with so few political representives things are less likely to go wrong for the SDLP, in their ever downwhere spiral, another couple of elections they’ll not have to worry about any elected representative causing the party embarassment.

  • Dave

    John, I am being cynical when I suggest that the Shinners used terrorism to enrich themselves, particularly a tactic of bombing specific locations in order to depress property values within them and then buy those properties at reduced prices in the certain knowledge that property values will increase when you stop bombing those locations. These property assets are not held by the party but by front-men who act on behalf of the godfathers of the Shinners – and you know which politician is assocated with Shinnerism in Derry.

    Others are just as cynical:

    [i]Ed Moloney, the author of A Secret History of the IRA, said it usually bought businesses above the going rate to keep the previous owners onside. A week after the deal is closed, turnover suddenly multiplies on paper by six or seven times. “This is a way of producing legitimate funds.” He said that at one stage in Derry so many businesses were controlled by the IRA it was believed it stopped its bombing campaign there because it would be blowing up its own premises.[/i]

  • cynic

    With apologies to Kipling

    You never can
    Bend or Twist
    The Trusty Irish
    Shinnerist

    But when you see what
    Unbribed he’ll do
    In truth
    There’s no requirement to

  • A Derry Wan

    Sure the landlord was Patrick Hegarty….he of William Mitchell[NI} Ltd, the owners of the Richmond Centre and currently a company in the hands of an Administrator….God sure he needed the high rent !!!!

  • milo

    Neil
    I really don’t care the exact identity of the landlord, I was just expressing the wide-held opinion that the going-rate would have been paid if the landlord wasn’t an ex-pat, an exile or whatever, rather than if he was an English landlord.

    Is it not acceptable for us to be annnoyed by that? Overly inflated rent prices that just so happen to go to an Irish landlord? Nothing strange there?

    My opinion isn’t that the shinners stayed in slums, slum landlord also have quite nice properties on their portfolio, doesn’t mean they cease to be slum landlords.

    Your constant reference to not breaking rules takes all credence from your arguement. I’m sure those involved in the struggle are delighted shinners are now sounding like old Tories.

    By the way, please don’t use “LOL” in any posts back to me, all it does is take credibility from your arguement. We’re not having a humourous debate, unless you’re laughing nervously.

  • John O’Connell

    The name mentioned on this thread for the landlord owning the Sinn Fein houses in London is not the name I heard mentioned. Pete, you should delete post reference number 10 above.

    Dave

    If it was as bad as that the SDLP would have no chance. The truth that much of what you say is out of date, and much of the funds of SF have been dissipated through cuts given to IRA members and it would be folly to fund businesses on the basis that they can be just taken over. That way lies bankruptcy for many businesses. Money laundering cannot be as big a problem as it once was with very few bank robberies these days.

  • YelloSmurf

    Wow, Neil. Nothing like over stating your case. Of course there are legitimate reasons for SF representatives to be in London, but I still think that these do not crop up often enough to justify the lease of two flats.

    What I meant by, not at taxpayers’ expense, is that you (unless you are an MP or similar) probably did not legitimately travel to London at taxpayers’ expense.

    The answer is that, of course I want peace, that is why I am part of a party which called for peace, powersharing and non violence long before they were popular or fasionable, why I am part of a party which has NEVER supported violence. However, that does not mean that Sinn Féin should not be subject to scrutiny. They’re big boys now and should be treated as such.