Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein still richest Northern Ireland party, earning twice as much as DUP last year

Sinn Fein remains the richest party in Northern Ireland and earned twice as much last year as the DUP, according to figures released by the Electoral Commission
Sinn Fein remains the richest party in Northern Ireland and earned twice as much last year as the DUP, according to figures released by the Electoral Commission
Suzanne Breen

By Suzanne Breen

Sinn Fein remains the richest party in Northern Ireland and earned twice as much last year as the DUP, according to figures released by the Electoral Commission.

The republican party boasted an income of £862,000 and was also the highest spending party locally on £940,000.

The DUP was well behind as the second highest earning party on £412,000. Arlene Foster's party spent £404,000 in 2018.

The Ulster Unionists enjoyed an income of £339,000 but spent £371,000. The SDLP spent significantly more than it earned - £260,000 on an income of only £161,000.

The Alliance Party had a healthy financial year, securing an income of £246,000 and spending £218,000.

The SDLP, which had relied heavily on Westminster funding, has suffered financially since the loss of its three MPs in the 2017 general election. The party's income in now half the £320,000 it enjoyed in 2016. Its weakening financial position makes a full-blown merger with Fianna Fail even more likely.

The Electoral Commission published details of the parties' 2018 accounts yesterday.

Sinn Fein directly employed 14 full-time staff here last year and its elected representatives also employed 84 full-time staff on constituency work, according to its Northern Ireland accounts.

The party received £270,000 in donations, down from £437,000 in 2017. Head office in Dublin made £120,000 in contributions to the party locally.

Sinn Fein enjoyed a healthier fundraising year - up from £78,000 in 2017 to £91,000.

The party's Assembly and Westminster allowances also rose to £342,000 from £289,000 in 2017. Its travel expenses fell from £48,000 in 2017 to £22,000 last year. But it spent more on conferences and services - £17,000 compared to £5,000 in 2017.

Its security expenditure rose last year to £12,500 from £7,600 the previous year. Its spending on organisational development rose by a third on 2017 to reach £60,000 last year.

The party spent £8,400 on campaigning against Brexit and just £7,800 on its 'Uniting Ireland' department.

The DUP's income fell by a fifth last year - from £509,000 in 2017 to £412,000. However, donations were slightly up from £153,000 to £161,000 over the 12 months. Membership subscriptions rose significantly from £13,000 to £22,000.

The Ulster Unionists' income fell by 25% last year, decreasing from £458,000 to £339,000.

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