A former Tory minister has claimed taxpayers are “being taken for a ride” after it emerged that Sinn Fein has claimed more than £400,000 on a pair of London flats – even though its five MPs refuse to take their seats in Westminster.
It was reported that in the last financial year the five claimed a total of £105,000 yet they do not take their House of Commons seats and are rarely seen in London.
Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, Pat Doherty, Michelle Gildernew and Conor Murphy each claimed £21,000 in Additional Cost Allowances – just short of the maximum.
The Daily Mail has reported that since the figures were first published in 2001/02, the Sinn Fein MPs had received a total of £437,405 in the taxpayer funded allowance.
Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson said: "It is completely unacceptable for Sinn Fein representatives, who won’t even sit in Parliament, to claim hundreds of thousands at the taxpayers’ expense. That is why the Conservatives have consistently opposed members who refuse to take their seats receiving the accommodation allowance.”
Former Tory chairman Lord Tebbit, whose wife was paralysed by the IRA Brighton bombing in 1984, also hit out at the claims.
“As usual, we are being taken for a ride. I’m very surprised that these MPs are so undignified as to claim money from Her Majesty’s Treasury at all, since they refuse to recognise the Queen,”he said.
A Sinn Fein spokesman defended the claims. He said that the two rented properties were used by the MPs on a shared basis when they were in London.
“Sinn Fein MPs do not |receive a salary from Westminster, nor do they employ any family members. Sinn Fein makes no apology for |refusing to sit in the British House of Commons,” he said.
“We also make no apology for ensuring that people who vote for Sinn Fein get the same democratic entitlements as everyone else.”
The Daily Mail figures focus solely on Sinn Fein’s accommodation expenses in London but come just a day after the Belfast Telegraph carried a detailed breakdown of all our MPs’ Commons and Assembly expenses.
The figures, released by Stormont under freedom of information, showed that Sinn Fein’s five MPs claimed a total of £681,235 in Commons expenses in the 2007/08 financial year.That figure rises to £1,365,397 when claims for Commons and Assembly |expenses are combined.