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Sinn Fein outspent political rivals at 2019 general election, new figures show

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John Finucane celebrates with Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald (left) and vice president Michelle O’Neill after his general election victory (Liam McBurney/PA)

John Finucane celebrates with Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald (left) and vice president Michelle O’Neill after his general election victory (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

John Finucane celebrates with Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald (left) and vice president Michelle O’Neill after his general election victory (Liam McBurney/PA)

Sinn Fein heavily outspent their political rivals in last year's general election, new figures have revealed.

The Electoral Commission has published the campaign spending returns of political parties that contested the 2019 UK Parliamentary general election in Northern Ireland.

The 10 political parties reported spending a combined total of £120,996 between December 13 2018 until polling day on December 12 2019.

Sinn Fein spent £34,684 during this period, with the Conservatives spending the second highest amount locally with £22,017.

The Alliance Party spent £21,778, SDLP £19,612 and the DUP spent considerably less than their political rivals Sinn Fein, with only £16,064 spent.

Aontu spent £678, People Before Profit Alliance spent £130 and the Green Party spent just £1 during this period.

The DUP suffered a bruising general election, losing two MPs in Nigel Dodds (North Belfast) and Emma Little-Pengelly (South Belfast). Mr Dodds lost his seat to Sinn Fein's John Finucane while Little-Pengelly was defeated by the SDLP's Claire Hanna.

The general election saw Nationalist MPs outnumber unionists at Westminster for the first time.

The DUP took eight seats, with Sinn Fein taking seven, the SDLP two and the Alliance Party one.

Boris Johnson had called a snap election last year in a bid to win a majority and force his Brexit deal through parliament.

The gamble paid off, with Johnson securing a comfortable majority in parliament, enabling him to get his Brexit deal passed by MPs.

Pro-Remain parties in Northern Ireland formed election pacts in order to boost the chances of pro-Remain MPs being returned to Westminster.

Sinn Fein did not run any candidates in South Belfast in a bid to help Ms Hanna get elected, while the SDLP reciprocated in North Belfast to aid Mr Finucane election chances.

The Green Party did not stand any candidates, explaining why the party only spent £1 during the election campaign.

Cahir Hughes, Head of Electoral Commission Northern Ireland, said: “This is the first publication of spending information relating to last year’s general election, an important part of the transparency which is essential to our democratic process.

"It is vital that voters are able to see clearly and accurately how money is spent on influencing them at elections.

“For future elections, we have recommended that the law be changed so that parties and campaigners have to provide voters with more detail about how they spend their money at elections.

"This sits alongside other recommended changes to improve transparency and to address public concerns about who has produced and paid for the political campaign material they see online.”

Belfast Telegraph