Eoin Ó Broin on SF party contributions: 'What TDs do with their own salaries is their own business'

A Sinn Féin TD who is one of nine not to have made an expected contribution to the party over the past three years says that how a TD spends their money is “their own business”.

Eoin Ó Broin on SF party contributions: 'What TDs do with their own salaries is their own business'

A Sinn Féin TD who is one of nine not to have made an expected contribution to the party over the past three years says that how a TD spends their money is “their own business”.

“The party has requested that TDs consider making a voluntary contribution, as obviously the party can’t force TDs to do things with their own wages. The party policy is that what TDs do with their own salaries is their own business,” said Eoin Ó Broin, the party’s spokesman on housing.

Last week it emerged that only two of Sinn Féin’s 32 elected representatives from the Republic across the Dáil, Seanad, and European Parliament have been making the requested annual contribution of €2,500 over the past three years.

“Most TDs do that (make a contribution to the party), some of us don’t,” Mr Ó Broin said.

“I’m on public record, maybe four or five times over the past four years, I take a net take-home pay of €550 a week, I invest the differences in that and my salary into constituency services. I sponsor a lot of sports clubs, I pay insurance for community groups, I make other kinds of donations, I pay for hospitality, and I have never claimed to donate the money directly to the party.”

“My view as a TD is that the salary is excessive,” Mr Ó Broin said, adding that while he would not volunteer the information as to how his own salary is distributed, he remains “quite happy” to discuss same if asked.

“Obviously we have to fund the party, so the party requesting a voluntary donation is a completely reasonable request. Most of our TDs, as far as I understand, make that donation and/or invest money in local constituency services, and I think that’s a very good thing," he said.

In fact, just 39% of expected contributions from the party’s representatives in the Dáil were received between 2016 and 2018.

The other TDs who have declined to make a voluntary contribution, two of whom have now retired from public life, are Kathleen Funchion, David Cullinane, Martin Kenny, Sean Crowe, John Brady, Pat Buckley, Jonathan O’Brien, and Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.

Most of the representatives in question cited constituency costs as the reason for not making the contribution. Ms Funchion said that being the sole TD for a two-party area in Carlow-Kilkenny meant having to retain two staff across two constituency offices, and that the party is aware of those commitments.

Meanwhile, Pat Buckley, TD for Cork East, said he has “no problem” with the sought contribution: “It’s part of our policy. Everything goes back into the party."

With regard to how he manages his own salary, he added: “Always, everything goes into the party, it’s not wasted, but I’m not going to tell you how I spend my money.”

For the three year period in question only Mary Lou McDonald and Dublin senator Fintan Warfield made the full donation of €7,500. Former president, Gerry Adams, made donations of €6,563 in that period.

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