Questions arising for Sinn Fein from Tuesday’s Spotlight programme..

I’m just pinning these videos from the Sinn Fein end of Mandy McAuley’s two part Spotlight,  with minimal comment in part because I haven’t worked out what to think on the matter, and because I want to hear what you guys think. It’s worth doing so just to isolate the scale of that end of the problem.

Firstly, there’s a wholly owned private company Research Services Ireland (£700k):

Secondly a party bill for secretarial work of £3.7m:

Then there are those charitable bodies which seem to own an awful lot of property (Gulladuff in particular is an expensive new build), and whose books appear not to be regulated in open or transparent sort of way.

Questions arising:

  • How was/is income/expenses from Westminster, Dublin and Brussels handled?
  • And what’s the ownership arrangements around other SF property/offices in Northern Ireland, or even the Republic?
  • Is there a case for looking again at the ownership arrangements around those two properties in London which aroused suspicion?

Part I

Part II

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • There was some ‘Regulator’ out in the media the other day saying this would be treated seriously etc and so on nada nada nada. The scale of some of this stuff and the lack of any paper trail in respect of payment/output would suggest that the ‘Regulator’ may wish to up his game a bit.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Or bury his head!!

  • chrisjones2

    Yet again the NIO is up to its neck in thisIn 2007 a hose of money was sprayed over Sinn Fein and the rest of the Bozos to get them back to Stormont.

    SF had a team at the centre filling in the claims and sending them in.They were then paid to the party not the MLA . The Assembly even paid MLAs salaries to SF not to them. At one point you even have SF staff commissioning work from a company they own and authorizing payment when the invoices arrive. Anywhere else that might get you 10 years but not here where it was approved in advance by officials and the Government

    It seems that anything went. Intriguingly SF say they wre even given tax exemption by the British Government. This has the potential to be another OTR issue. Were the DUP and UUP and SDLP given tax exemption for their business?If not the entire political finance process is skewed with the British Government giving financial preference to one party – indirectly funding SF and turning a blind eye to their scams

    It was the same at Westminster. No salaries but hundreds of thousands in expenses – for what?

    Where did all this cash go? It doesn’t seem to be in the Books? So what has it been used for?Where are all the staff employed? what do they do?

    Will SF TDs now declare that they and their party is largely secretly funded by the British Government?

    As for the Unionists, well its all lavish expenditure, personal gain, jobs for family members and mates and basic graft – but all within the rules that they wrote.

    Your Da or Son wants a job -will £20k do?

    Your office rent should be £8000 – well pay £10400 and use it as a bung to a constituent

    Want stamps? No franking machine or post office for us – we will use a service station in the middle of nowhere and buy 10s of thousands of them.It must be terrible for Postmen in North Antrim, – they should all have bad backs from delivering the weight oi DUP correspondence. Pity all the paperless trees

    The overall conclusion? There may be some good and honest MLAs but they are keeping their heads well down. You diont shaft party colelages after all

    Its all just a gravy train for the rest and the really telling point was that NONE of them were on camera calling for action. It was all heads down, hide away.That spoke volumes

    Key question – is Stormont worth it?

  • sean treacy

    The 700k which you quote was for a 10 year period and worked out at less than £50 per week per MLA. However we are told that your beloved STOOPS claimed expenses of 10k each for their publicity dept but not told for how many years.Maybe you could put this question to Mandy and her team as even one years claim would total 150k

  • barnshee

    “It seems that anything went. Intriguingly SF say they were even given tax exemption by the British Government. ”

    Evasion of tax is a criminal offence

    Fraudulent evasion of VAT (Value Added Tax Act 1994, s.72(1)),

    False statement for VAT purposes (Value Added Tax Act 1994, s.72(3)),

    Conduct amounting to an offence (Value Added Tax Act 1994, s.72(8))

    And that`s before we get to Theft act and False accounting penalties

    I presume SF can produce a “certificate of exemption” from HMRC— the verification of such will be most interesting

    “The 700k which you quote was for a 10 year period and worked out at less than £50 per week per MLA.”


  • barnshee

    “In the event, the MLA (former Sinn Fein) is a totally blameless person. His wife drove him. He cant drive a car….neither can I. I am 62 years old and never owned a full licence. Not driving should not inhibit people from being elected and claiming expenses. Too much was madeof that non-issue”

    Nope– his wife– in his word drove him “a few times”
    The money claimed was some £19000— not a non issue

  • Cue Bono

    “Your Da or Son wants a job -will £20k do?”

    Sinners wouldn’t get out of bed for that.

  • puffen

    DUP give it out to mummies and daddies brothers and daughters and every body else, in that sense it goes bungalow extensions, and boyfriends and if you are a First Minister you are unaware of what is going on, apart from the odd fiver lying at at the bottom of the garden, SF are more sophisticated in chicanery but no less in their guilt, I remember well listening to old men in the pub , saying they are all the same, and you know what they were right,

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I was on a trip over to family in London during then1964 election and was delighted to see “Don’t vote, its a double X” painted on all the walls around Notting Hill/Portabello Road. In those days if a horror film was particularly gruesome it was given a double “X” certificate! And then that delicious allusion to the voting “x” being for things you did not want to vote for.

  • Brian Walker

    1. Like everything else to do with the Assembly the Review panel operates too slowly and feebly. The lag in detailed accountability for allowances
    expenses must be ended and the system brought into line with Westminster and the other devolved administrations. Mr McCartan seems an honest man but appears to lack the heft and dynamism of the retired senior civil servants who went through Westminster like a dose of salts after the expenses scandal

    2. Rates for allowances must be lowered and evidence required. The highest level should not be treated as the default entitlement

    3 Clarity is needed for what is a claim to support the work of the MLA and what should be done by the party. There is a genuine overlap..

    4. A institution that operates like IPSA with full transparency must be created for the Assembly

    5. I would like to know why payments from shell bodies are not regarded as undeclared donations to a political party under Election Commission

    6. Anonymity for political donations which applies to NI only should be ended. Its
    survival is inexcusable.

    7.Over funding of the Assembly and its transparency NI
    exceptionalism, as in most things, should be ended forthwith

  • steve white
  • chrisjones2

    Strange I seem to recall that a few months back they told the Irish Times that pay rates in the Dail started at €k – half that in Belfast – an allIreland party indeed

  • barnshee

    The only organisation with the full powers of investigation are HMRC
    Don`t hold your breath