Sinn Fein’s accounts came in for scrutiny this month. Among some peculiarities were the fact (arising logically from them) that its press team cannot possibly be being paid the living wage (thus Sinn Fein is acting illegally by paying slave wages), and that it is simply not apparent where its MLAs (and by extension TDs) pay in their contribution to the party which would mean they were taking home merely the “average industrial wage”.
To be clear, as it is not secret, many parties ask their elected representatives to make a contribution back to the party, on the basis that that elected representative would not have been elected without the party label. This sum, which operates a little like a traditional “tithe”, of course then appears in the party’s accounts.
Sinn Fein claims that it uses this system, and that its elected representatives make a contribution which means that, in effect, they earn only the “average industrial wage”. Already, however, it has become apparent that this is not the case – in fact, Sinn Fein MLAs take home the average pre-tax industrial wage – i.e. several thousand pounds more each year than the average industrial worker takes home after tax. This sounds reasonable to me, except that Sinn Fein should not claim its MLAs take home the average industrial wage when they do not.
However, it is also unclear from the party’s accounts that any money is paid by MLAs into the party’s purse, as that money simply does not appear on the balance sheet. To make matters worse, in fact the sum MLAs would have had to contribute to the party’s funds in order to take home the “average industrial wage” is in fact more than the party received at all, from all sources. In other words, Sinn Fein’s own accounts show that its total income was less than the contribution due from each MLA to add up to each taking home the “average industrial wage”. Since more than half its claimed income was accounted for, this would appear to indicate MLAs simply are not contributing to the party at all. More likely, of course, is that they are contributing to a different bank account (the one which, perhaps, pays the press office’s real salaries which also do not add up, as noted above). However, surely the voting public should know about this?
It is all a little odd, and the days when Sinn Fein did not get asked such awkward questions have surely passed in this glorious new Executive versus Opposition era. Perhaps a coherent Opposition response would be a good start, Messrs Nesbitt and Eastwood?