Sinn FEIN is coming under internal pressure to relax its strict “industrial wage policy” which is leaving some of its elected representatives hard up.
It has been a proud boast of the party since the policy was introduced in the late 1980s that all its TDs and senators in the Republic are paid no more than €34,000 (£27,000) out of their €92,000 (£74,000) salary.
In Northern Ireland, the salary for an incoming MLA is currently £43,101, due to increase to £48,000 from next April.
It means Sinn Fein as a party will be raking in around £20,000 this year for its 29 MLAs when its shake-up to end double-jobbing is complete — £580,000.
That figure increases to £725,000 next year and does not include what Sinn Fein MLAs office holders — such as the Deputy First Minister — receive. That goes straight to Sinn Fein.
In today’s Belfast Telegraph, former Sinn Fein MLA Billy Leonard reveals it was a disagreement over the system the party uses to pay its politicians that led to him quitting the party.
In the Republic, after salaries and tax and pension levies, there is around €18,000 (£14,000) left, which is used to pay for additional constituency staff.
The set-up was designed to keep its politicians “grounded” as well as provide funds for party activities but Sinn Fein foreign affairs spokesman Padraig Mac Lochlainn predicted the policy may have to be reviewed.
“We mightn't have this policy forever. It's one that has caused difficulties for our representatives at times. If you've a large family or somebody going to university, it has been a real challenge,” he said.
“This policy has never won Sinn Fein any votes. People think ‘I don't want to live in a world where I earn the same as the fellow over there who doesn't work half as many hours'.”