The row over British MPs expenses today extended to Sinn Féin with the disclosure that the party’s five MPs have claimed more than £400,000 (€444,000) on a pair of London flats.
The Daily Mail reported that in the last financial year the five claimed a total of £105,000 (€116,000) even though they do not take their seats at Westminster and are rarely seen in the city.
Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, Pat Doherty, Michelle Gildernew, and Conor Murphy each claimed £21,000 (€23,000) in Additional Cost Allowances – just short of the maximum.
The paper said that since the figures were first published in 2001/02, the Sinn Féin MPs had received a total of £437,405 in the UK taxpayer-funded allowance.
A party spokesman last night defended the claims. He said that the two rented properties were used by the MPs on a shared basis when they were in London.
“Sinn Féin MPs do not receive a salary from Westminster, nor do they employ any family members. Sinn Féin makes no apology for refusing to sit in the British House of Commons,” the spokesman said.
“We also make no apology for ensuring that people who vote for Sinn Féin get the same democratic entitlements as everyone else.”
However the payments were strongly condemned by senior Tories.
The latest disclosures are likely to fuel demands for reform of the British political expenses system in the wake of a steady stream of revelations which have embroiled a series of government ministers.