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Sinn Fein top the poll as Northern Ireland's biggest party earners

By Jonny Bell

Financial accounts reveal that Sinn Fein is Northern Ireland's biggest earning political party.

The Electoral Commission has published the earnings of the Northern Ireland political parties.

Sinn Fein reported an income of £1.1m, while it spent £1.2m.

The SDLP also spent more than it earned with an income of £543,704 and expenditure of £600,851.

The DUP reported a £533,682 income and an expenditure of £511,766.

And the Ulster Unionists had an income of £412,805 and an expenditure of £310,613. Their accounts also reveal that the party holds assets over £1m.

For the Alliance party, it had an income of £243,339 with an expenditure of £224,423.

The Electoral Commission's reporting shows that the SDLP, DUP and UUP also submitted separate accounts for different groups of the party.

In the DUP's Westminster Party MP accounts, It reported an income of £240,291 and an expenditure of £286,350.

The SDLP submitted a further two accounts for its Westminster and Assembly party groups. Combined they had an income of £197,359.28 and spent £198,261.13.

After its central accounts filing, the UUP submitted accounts for its Assembly party and its east Belfast constituency association. Combined they had an income of £119,532 and an expenditure of £97,264.

Interestingly the report also reveals that Basil McCrea's NI21 had an income of £26,348.93 and spent £26,400.12. That was considerably more than the PUP's reported income of £7,860. For 2015 the PUP spent £3,774.

The released reports also show that the Republic's Fianna Fáil had an income and expenditure of £25.

The Electoral commission repeated its call for the UK Government to extend the same transparency regime on party funding to Northern Ireland as applies elsewhere in the UK as soon as possible.

Details of any large donors have to be sent to the Electoral Commission but are not made public due to security concerns.

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