“MPs set to cut Sinn Fein money”

Mark Devenport is back in the office.  And he’s pointing to a prediction by Newsnight’s Michael Crick following the Speaker of the House of Commons’ response to a point of order yesterday on the issue of the payment of allowances expenses to MPs who do not take their seats.  Here’s what Michael Crick posted

The Speaker John Bercow today announced he would allow MPs a debate and vote on the Sinn Fein allowances, a subject of considerable anger at Westminster. This is now expected to take place this autumn.

There is likely to be wide support on all sides of the House for cutting back on the money Sinn Fein members receive. This was the subject of a Westminster Hall debate a few weeks ago.

One possible outcome is that Sinn Fein MPs will still be allowed to claim allowances which enable them to look after their constituents. But it looks likely that they will be deprived of travel allowances for trips between Northern Ireland and London.

It is also probable that they will now be barred from receiving Short Money, the state funds given to Opposition parties for research and policy work.

These decisons could cost the five Sinn Fein members hundreds of thousands of pounds a year between them.

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  • joeCanuck

    These decisons could cost the five Sinn Fein members hundreds of thousands of pounds a year between them.

    Not to mention the costs to the banks to beef up security.

  • Garza


    No bum in seat. No cash in hand.

  • The Raven

    Yeah I’m cool with this one. And not for any political reasons either.

    If ye cannae do the time, ye shouldn’t get a dime.

  • lover not a fighter

    Not surprised that Westminister does not like those that do kiss or suck the royal ring !

  • Arthur McAllister

    I’m unsure on this, I dislike SF and their existing army but in a democracy should they not be allowed the same allowances as any other party?
    Their constituents, whether SF voters or, like me, not, need their MPs to be in London doing things on their behalf, without the payment of expenses they are unable to go so also unable to meet influential people who can make a difference.
    I think it is very unlikely they will bend to this type of pressure.

  • Mark McGregor

    SF would work this easily to their advantage. Any decline in British funding would be offset by the ability to downsize an oversized/unfit for purpose party machine and blame it on the Brits then appeal to volunteerism as a result and more importantly cast themselves as being ‘victimised’ through their struggle with British Tories.

    It’d suddenly make a party fully engaged in making the British state work seem a lot more in conflict than they really are.

  • Teri

    Cameron said when this was first raised at PMQs that he would like Sinn Fein to be present and was sure they could find a way around the issue.. In the Scottish Parliament, all took the oath, but many stated they did so under protest; that their allegiance was to the people of Scotland. Incidentally those who did so under protest were from several different parties, not just SNP. Maybe Cameron was thinking of something similar.

  • AlanMaskey

    Teri: No one should have to swear allegience to an old bag. Mark is correct too. But Sinn Fein are hardly even a sideshow for Cameron or the British people, who are more concerned with winning contracts in India, getting their white arses kicked in Afghanistan and convincing Great Satan USA that there ain’t nothing British about British Petroleum.

  • Teri

    Alan, I agree that no-one should have to swear allegiance to Queenie, but if doing so under protest then stating who you’re allegiance is to, at least the Scottish MSPs are there and kind of getting on with it. It is said that one Socialist said, in the first parliament he swore allegiance to ‘her hair and accessories’ instead of ‘heir and successors’ but I’m sure that’s just a story.

    Yes, Cameron is busy cosying up to many countries and along with President Obama managed to trash Scotland on the World stage. Here in Scotland we are so unimportant to Westminster.

  • G O’Neill


    This is Ireland not Scotland. Your example is applying one place with a completly different history to another.

    Sinn Fein will never sit in westminister I just don’t understand why some people cannot accept this and move on.

  • Ranger1640

    Sinn Fein are an abstentionist party, they get elected on their abstentionist manifesto. They with the help of their electorate exclude themselves. Therefore if they don’t take part they don’t get the pay or benefits. After all we are told the Sinn Fein electorate are a sophisticated electorate, if their that sophisticated then they will surly understand the simple no representation no taxpayers money! Simples!

  • Charminator

    I agree with Arthur, Mark and AlanM for the diverse combination of reasons.

    I’m particularly persuaded by the SF victimisation point and I can certainly see how this could chime on Nationalist/Republican doorsteps, especially with a Tory PM.

    More generally, that a political representative should have to pass through a sort of intermediate stage (ie, oath to the Queen) between being elected by the people and representing them surely raises serious democratic issues. But then again, this is a State which by it’s laws, specifically prohibits a Catholic Head of State.

    In the context of the GFA, however, which clearly recognises the dual identities of the people of the North, requiring SF MPs to swear an oath to the Queen – a position entirely contrary to the very fabric of the GFA – is an anachronism.

    Better an oath to serve all their constituents or an exception for those who protest on moral grounds, similar to, say in court, where traditionally an oath was taken on a Bible, but now this is recognised to be outdated.

  • AlanMaskey

    Ranger: It is not that simple. See, partly as a result of the fact that several Catholics (but not Gerry Adams) went out and shot pro British personnel and obnoxious Loyalists, the British had to do some kind of a rethink to justify the terrible deal Catholics in the Occupied Six Counties got. As part of that deal, they had to pay lip service to things Catholics liked: the GAA, the FAI, the IRFU and voting Sinn Fein. See, as tax payers, Catholics should get something more thanobnoxious Protestant Loyalists breathing down their necks. So money has to go to Catholic things, to Nationalist things and to things to keep those forces tame. Sinn Fein falls into that last category and so they must be funded.

    As a sophisticated guy yourself, you probably see the logic of that, buying the top brass off, of killing them with false kindness. No doubt in time, having seen how bneficial Sinn Fein is, you will vote for them. And maybe even run for election for them. They need even more people like you. Join up. Next year could be Celtics’s year.

  • Charminator

    Their constituents pay tax too, of course. So they ought to be exempted from taxation, if no representation… or are you suggesting that the system be developed to compel them to vote for only State-sanctioned options… because, after all, we’ve been there before and it doesn’t work very well.

  • If SF want the money they should go get it. Anyone who thinks killing for a cause is okay, but telling an obvious lie for the same cause is beneath their dignity: needs to see a doctor. Besides whats one more lie among so many.

  • Greenflag

    As long as NI is part of the UK and as long as SF represent a significant number of people in NI then they have an obligation to take their seats and represent those people at Westminster . It’s no longer 1918 and it’s time to wise up. They won’t lose any votes over it and may even gain a few .

    Abstentionism will get SF nowhere . What has it actually achieved ? It did’nt work for Dev between 1923 and 1926 . No need to make a fuss about it either . Just take the seat and the money and maybe provide some opposition with an edge .

    Why not ?

  • socaire

    People can be good and people can be bad . We can only hope that the good people outnumber the bad otherwise there will be more bad people than good people. I’m sure we would all like to see more people.

  • joeCanuck

    Exactly; they abstained from councils, now it’s ok, they abstained from the Dáil, now it’s ok, they abstained from Stormont, now it’s ok.
    They should get on with fully representing their constituents. I never voted for them when I had the vote; one (only one) of the reasons was their abstentionist position.

  • Mark McGregor

    This represrnting all the electorate stuff is a nonsense.

    I and others didn’t vote for SF because we’ve decided their positions don’t represent us. I don’t expect SF to represent me at Westminster because they can’t – they aren’t promoting an agenda I agree with.

    Similarly for Unionism – even if SF did turn up they couldn’t represent their interests because they, at least in word, claim to be dedicated to undermining their main interest – the Union.

    In a FPTP system you get SF and abstentionism, the minority (electorally) in many cases represent the rest – that is the system the Brits have.

    If you want proportional representation, legislate for it. If not, get over it. Some constituencies return MPs that won’t attend – some return those that rob and laze in the house.

    The electorate has the decision on penalising them or not at a thing called the ballot box.

  • John East Belfast

    If they dont do the full job then they shouldnt get the ful pay – it is a No Brainer.

    If they dont believe in Westminster then they shouldnt stand for Westminster elections

  • socaire

    Have to agree with you JEB but then we have to keep the other side out. And if all seats in the 6-counties returned a pro-Union MP then the real Brits would think we were all British too. Confusing?

  • Mark McGregor

    I’ll put this even more simply – no other MP is paid ‘pro rata’.

    Attendence is not rated for anyone else.

    If others are getting paid on the basis of attendence I look forward to the attempts to reduce Lady Hermon’s cash away because she never turns up either.

  • socaire!


    There are indeed good people and there are bad people, and very often they are, believe it or not, the same people. SF should take the bloody oath and get over themselves.

    And dont you start getting all metaphysical with me.

  • Hard hat

    If Sinn Fein and its electorate believe 100% in abstentionism, why isn’t the electorate abstaining from British Government elections in the first place? Isn’t voting as much recognition of and participation in the state apparatus as sending elected MPs to Westminster?

  • Wasted Ballot

    If it sticks the boot in to SF’s have assed approach to representing their voters then I’m all for it.

    Shame we can’t do the same for the clowns that only show up a small fraction of the time at the Assembly and westminster.

  • socaire

    Have we not all asses?

  • old school

    The Brits should give them the money.
    It’s money and Sinn Fein’s love of it that destroyed the struggle after all.
    If I was a Brit,I’d be throwing money at the Provos to keep them condemning decent Republicans.

  • old school

    “No return to Stormont”
    “Not an ounce”
    “No to criminalisation”
    “Brits Out”
    “No Internal settlement”
    “No to British policing”
    “No to Orange marches”

  • ‘Have we not all asses’

    Of course, but most of us have a working brain as well.

  • Hard hat

    Eureka!!! A slogan for Republican Sinn Fein, éirígí, GARC, RNU et al: “Decent Republicans votail RSF”. Don’t tell me that’s not catchy.

  • And who would care? they have already taken the Queens shilling– a few LESS will be neither here nor there

  • old school

    Yes, Hardhat. You may use that slogan.
    Although it’s not solely for RSF. It’s for all comrades who weren’t bought off.

  • Oh dear the $64000 dollar question

  • Hard hat

    ……….or didn’t get electoral support.

  • I can see it . The people of west belfast etc beseiging tax offices with cash,cheques and tax returns. Pity about the TV licences

  • “several Catholics (but not Gerry Adams) went out and shot pro British personnel and obnoxious Loyalists*

    obnoxious Loyalists– a long history of it


    –and the particularly obnoxious loyalists out earning a living

    crawl back under your stone before your fellow murder gang supporters miss you

  • old school

    Well, remember Jesus started off with just 12 followers.

  • Lionel Hutz

    so what you are saying is that Sinn Fein use their allowances for their electoral machine. I thought it was used for “representing”

  • Lionel Hutz

    Correct me if I’m wrong here but the comments on this thread seem to be about salaries but that is not what is the issue here.

    This is about the allowances. It’s much easier to justify taking it away. The allowances are there for Sinn Fein to do their jobs as representatives. Accordingly they should get paid for their constituency work but not for trips to london and their accomodation there.

    When Sinn Fein attend Westminister, you the No 10 revolving door, its Sinn Fein business and they should pay for it

  • o’ceallaigh

    I am not a Sinn Fein voter but people seem to forget it wasn’t that long ago that governments from London,Dublin and Washington were pleading with Sinn Fein to embrace the democratic process and choose the ballot box over the Armalite.

    The British government knew what they were getting when Sinn Fein, an Irish Republican party took the initiative,stood for election and fairly won those Westminster seats,now it seems the British establisment want to change the rules,they want Sinn Fein to abandon their republican principles and swear allegiance to a foreign monarch, how democratic is that and what is the lesson here for all the Irish voters who do not subscribe to the monarchist point of view.

    They now see their elected representatives being punished and criticised for now towing the monarchist line without respect to their own republican aspirations.If the parliament of Westminster wants to remain an inclusive house for all the parties of the UK then it needs to respect the mandate of the duly elected MPs regardless of their politics.

  • Munsterview

    So……… here we go again ! Every thing to do with Northern Ireland is an artificial attempt to make an artificial Statelet work with some semblance of representative democracy, which given the situation that it is arising from, has to be contrived and usual rules exempted.

    When two counties who, in the free and democratic British election of 1918, voted to abstain form Westminster Parliament and in so doing, to also join with other like minded counties to form an Independent Republic, their wishes were ignored. Instead they were hi-jacked against their collective will into the Statelet proposed by four recalcitrant counties with total selfish indifference the best interest or wishes of the 86% of their fellow citizens on this Island.

    If passage of time could legitimize such a blatant denial of democracy, then we would have a Nazi flag over a 1,000 year Rich European Federal Parliament Building! Too bad Hitler’s name was not Carson or that his Nazis movement was not called the Orange Order, if so he could have had the help of the Brits to trample democracy, instead of their opposition to his annexing a few countries to Germany!

    Paying out the same salary and expense entitlements to SF MPs, as every other MP is entitled to, is a very small price indeed for letting sleeping dogs lie. Having said that it is no harm what so ever for the SF to be reminded from time to time, that whatever of the GFA, they are in the political system under Tory and British establishment sufferance. Time to take another look at ‘the temporary little arrangement’?

    The Brits and all parties to the GFA knew what the position of SF regarding Parliamentary attendance in Westminster was, this is not a discovered check, those chess pieces were already moved on the game board, this had been the status quo for Sinn Fein MPs since 1918.

    The Brits may be just bloody minded enough to go cheese paring for the optics, if so it will be just one more demonstration of bad faith and a clear demonstration that despite Tony’s fine words in Linster House and all the other window dressing, British establishment attitudes to Republicans, Independence Nationalists and the Irish generally have not been decommissioned.

    As Albert said it is the little things that trip you up, the camel is well loaded yet the some Brits and Unionists are still gleefully sorrounding the beast with armfulls of straw to pile more on. That lesson will not be lost on those advocating going to Westminster with a briefcase containing something other than files and documents!

    Some parties just will not learn from the past or look to the future !

  • JimRoche

    But it looks likely that they will be deprived of travel allowances for trips between Northern Ireland and London.

    These decisons could cost the five Sinn Fein members hundreds of thousands of pounds a year between them

    Not if they don’t go. Unless of course merely travelling to Westminster generates hundreds of thousands in profit because MP’s expenses are so corrupt in the first place. Can we take it that sitting MPs are becoming millionaires on expenses alone??

  • Drumlin Rock

    if they complained too loudly about not getting their flights and accommodation in London paid for I don’t think many Republicans would have much sympathy, the days of screwing the Brits for all you can get are gone.

  • Drumlin Rock
  • Neil McNickle

    Removal of expenses from Sinn Fein members is long overdue! If they wont take their seats and deprive their electorate of representation then why should they be rewarded with all the services that other hard working MPs recieve.
    In addition if they don’t take there seats what possible business have they in London anyway?

  • My understanding is that this is referring to two separate issues: travel allowances from NI to London and Short Money. On a technical note – are the expenses paid for actual bums on seats in the house or for ‘attendance’ at Westminister? On that basis, will all MPs then be audited for the nature of their attendance in Westminister on days they claim to be carrying out their business in London?
    The legality of denying one party Short Money is probably questionable as well.
    Let’s not kid ourselves. Since SF MPs are elected on an overt abstentionist ticket, this is hardly going to sway their voters. So it’s not really going have any purposeful effect that way, either. The SDLP have been trying to play the attendance card to no effect so abstention isn’t a negative among SF voters.
    So, is the hope that the loss of allowances will mean a corresponding loss of influence if elected MPs are unable to travel to London, with a corresponding impact on services etc in their constituencies and that that will persuade voters not to return SF MPs? So, punish the voters and they will do as they are told?
    Or has none of this really been thought out beyond some vague trade off with the UUP over the unsuccessful UCUNF project? Trinkets for natives etc.

  • Neil

    Jim Roche,

    spot on the money. Depriving SF of their travel expenses won’t make a massive difference. Having searched online for any mention of their travel expenses, the telegraph have it lumped together at 500k for property but after some trawling the Guardian have sensationally revealed Michelle Gildernew’s travel expenses:


    That’s right, prepare to be enraged: 300 quid.

    So actually what will affect SF’s expenses is the same thing that will affect all the others, i.e. they (English, Scottish and Welsh MPs in the main) were robbing the fuck out of the system. That will actually cost everyone a few quid.

    The whole exercise is a fig leaf for those Tory politicians who were actually flipping homes (for personal gain) or avoiding CGT and pocketing the profit from their houses (cause they need the cash donchaknow). SF won’t miss their free flights too much I shouldn’t think. I will be surprised if they make too much noise about it at all tbh.

  • slug

    “I look forward to the attempts to reduce Lady Hermon’s cash away because she never turns up either.”

    I wish they would.

    Hermon has not attended parliament ONCE in this session.

  • Greenflag

    ‘what possible business have they in London anyway?’

    Who knows ? Who cares ? Maybe they want to visit some family members/relatives -do a little shopping in Harrods take in a play or musical in the West End -visit Highbury or Stamford Bridge to watch a ‘foreign’ a.k.a international sport ?

    In short all those things that most Irish people do when they visit London ?

    But they should take their Westminster seats anyway . When the great day eventually arrives and the political ‘link’ is broken then they can at least say that as long as it lasted they did what they were paid to do . It’s a no brainer . And no I’ve no time for monarchy either but it’s what the people of all Britain and part of NI want eh ?

  • Charminator

    @JoeCanuck, who says, “Exactly; they abstained from councils, now it’s ok, they abstained from the Dáil, now it’s ok, they abstained from Stormont, now it’s ok.”

    I think you’ll find in none of those fora do they swear an oath to the Queen. Also, in case it slipped your mind, all of those fora are actually located on the island of Ireland. It is not unreasonable to think that a party whose primary aim is to end the Union with Britain might (finally) reconcile itself to participating in all present political institutions on the island of Ireland, whilst maintaining a principled objection to participation in political institutions in Britain. That may seem antiquated to you, but to a great many Nationalists/Republicans (in fact, the majority of them in the North), that reasoning is accepted.

  • Charminator

    Not really. Voting in a British election to keep a UUP or DUP (or agreed Unionist) candidate out is by far the lesser of two evils to a Nationalist/Republican voter.

    After all, the alternative is having more Unionists in Westminster and we all know what mischief can be made then. A Tory Govt with a wafer-thin majority always likes to play the Orange card. As good old Ken Clarke said:
    “In the end you can always do a deal with an Ulsterman, but it’s not the way to run a modern, sophisticated society.”

    So better to have Pat Doherty sitting in the pub in Omagh or Michelle Gildernew on a raft in the lakes, than someone creating mischief in London.

  • old school

    Charminator, it may have slipped your mind but all those fora are partitionist assemblies.
    And yes, I do think it’s reasonable to question why a party claiming to be anti partitionist would give legitimacy and even stoic support to assemblies clearly designed to prolong and copper-fasten partition.
    I stood and listened to Mc Guinness at the funeral of Martin “Doco” Doherty claim that the 6 Counties was irreformable and heard him vow that he would never accept an internal settlement. He now promotes the 6 Counties throughout the World and at every opportunity.

  • Charminator

    @old school: I see your point and I well understand it. I was trying to point out, however to JoeCanuck, and I would hope you’d agree that institutions in Ireland are certainly far more legitimate governing Ireland, on any Republican argument, than institutions in Britain. That’s the simple point there.

    The validity of the institutions in Ireland – which is what you’re challenging – is a separate point. I recognise the very valid interpretations you’ve put forward and the partitionist flaws you’ve identified in the current structures in Ireland, but they are not just different in degree to Westminster, they are comprehensively different in nature. They are, at least, located in Ireland, with the people of Ireland alone, North and South, working them.

    You’ll be aware of the alternative argument that the people of Ireland voted for the GFA and by extension voted for the present dispensation, flawed though you may consider it. I doubt any Republican considers it ideal – and I doubt too that they consider it an end in itself, but the point I was making was not about the legitimacy or illegitimacy of these institutions in Ireland (which I think opens up a Pandora’s Box of arguments), but rather the major difference between these institutions collectively and Westminster.

  • Procrasnow

    This might be a small point:

    I thought MP’s expenses was taken out of the hands of MP’s was it not?

    can someone enlighten me?

  • Teri

    G O’Neill
    I am well aware of the differences between Scotland and Northern Ireland as I am of Northern Irish descent. What I said was not my suggestion of a solution to the matter. I stated that David Cameron was looking for a way to get SF members to take their sits. I pondered that maybe he had in mind what they do in the Scottish Parliament.
    I hope this clears this up. I would not purport to suggest a remedy of my own for the situation living as I do in Scotland.

  • G O’Neill

    I couldn’t agree with you more – could you just copy and paste this every time this thread appears.

  • o’ceallaigh

    Very well said,excellent article.

  • old school

    Charminator, seems to me you are simply promoting the very cause which Republicans opposed when Sinn Fein was first formed.
    You are an advocate of a modern version of Redmond’s Home Rule.
    Gibraltar, the Falklands, Scotland,Wales are all ruled in a similar fashion to the 6 Counties. Reminds us how we differ.

  • drumlins rock

    the European Parliment isn’t on the Island of Ireland but they take their seats there…

  • Not even for the emergency budget, for which there was no excuse.

    Still for the good folk of North Down the opportunity of voting in a Lady of the Realm was too much to turn down.

    She gets away with it because she knows with her electorate she can get away with it.

  • Pat Doherty doesn’t live in his constituency.

    Do you like Ken Clarke? Not known for his rebellious anti-union streak. What he was articulating was the need for something better after the DUP/UUP/Tory talks. And he was correct.

  • Charminator

    @old school: Not at all, no. I wasn’t promoting anything, but simply trying to provide an analysis. I’m also perfectly capable of defining what I am and what I am not in favour of. And I’ve never advocated Redmond’s home rule.

    But feel free to challenge on the points I did make, rather that what I didn’t.

    (1) The distinction I drew between institutions in Ireland, governed by the people of this island alone, and institutions in Britain.

    (2) The will of the Irish People expressed on 23 May 1998 endorsing the Good Friday Agreement arrangements. You say it ‘reminds us how we differ’, but it’s not how you and I differ. Rather, it’s how you and the Irish People, as expressing their will in 1998, differ. I may agree or disagree with the Irish People’s will: but at the end of the day, it’s the Irish People call the shots.

    It’s the Irish People who are the masters of this island and, to be frank, whilst they may value your opinion, they certainly aren’t going to take ‘Republicanism’ lessons, or the likes, from a wafer-thin minority of the whole of this island.

  • Munsterview

    And I invoke the qualification of Gowins law as delineated in the same source as I do Glenn Greenwald’s criticisms. Cannot quite decide if the particular response was a case of ‘ a little knowledge being a dangerous thing’ or of ‘the devil citing Scripture to suit his own purpose’

    Either way this is from the same reference…… ” However, Goodwill’s law itself can be abused, as a distraction, diversion or even censorship, that fallaciously miscasts an opponent’s argument as hyperbole, especially if the comparisons made by the argument are actually appropriate. A 2005 Reason magazine article argued that Godwin’s law is often misused to ridicule even valid comparisons…….”

    ‘……….Similar criticisms of the “law” (or “at least the distorted version which purports to prohibit all comparisons to German crimes”) have been made by Glenn Greenwald……’

  • Charminator

    No, but what Ken Clarke was articulating was a valid ‘mainland’ British concern about relying on Unionist votes from the North. It’s a simple quote: it doesn’t talk about pacts/something better etc. It’s about the arithmetic of a Westminster where Unionist MPs may be needed.
    Btw, the substantive point about voting in a British election to keep a UUP or DUP (or agreed Unionist) candidate out being by far the lesser of two evils to a Nationalist/Republican voter, is the critical issue.

  • Charminator

    And incidentally I have a great many friends not known for their rebellious anti-union streak. Let’s not be too presumptious.

  • Munsterview

    Yeah ! and do not forget the first time that he left the hills and came into town he was killed!

  • Charminator

    Thanks Drumlins Rock and they don’t swear an oath to a foreign monarch there either. But, of course, it’s a little more complicated.

    Ireland’s joining the EC (and it’s organs) was voluntary, Ireland’s membership is delimited by the Oireachtas (and our courts), and the Irish People remain the ultimate masters of this membership. As I said, no oath is pledged to a foreign monarch, and membership is viewed, by the Irish People, as consistent with our sovereignty, because ultimately our membership rests on our People’s choice and they can terminate should they choose.

    Now, if the EU cut off a particular part of Ireland, governed it and told the Irish People: tough luck, you’ll have to put up with all sorts of quixotic accommodations which defy the will of the Irish People as a whole, well, I’m not sure Irish Republicans would take their seats in Brussels either…. I think the lesson is: the British-Irish nexus and European-Irish nexus is very, very different. It doesn’t admit of easy comparison and doing so fails to appreciate the complexities of the British-Irish relationship: complexities which we all know exist, but which some find politically expedient to often ignore.

  • Charminator

    Thanks G O’Neill. It’s a simple enough analysis which I think, if people are entirely sincere, can readily accept makes sense.