Irish Examiner


Sinn Féin employees paid €500 a week

By Michael O'Farrell

GERRY ADAMS and all other Sinn Féin employees receive just €500 a week before tax with additional earnings going directly into the party's finances.

Sinn Féin's accounts released yesterday in a bid to quell speculation on the sources of the party's finances also reveal the party's comprehensive network of constituency offices is almost entirely reliant on volunteers.

In recent weeks, Justice Minister Michael McDowell has made and defended accusations about Sinn Féin being funded from the criminal activities of the IRA.

With an all-Ireland network of 47 constituency offices as well as headquarters in Belfast and Dublin, the entire Sinn Féin party employs just 29 people 16 in the South and 13 in the North.

In addition, the party has 24 MLAs and five TDs receiving State salaries, all of whom donate everything but the average industrial wage of €500 a week to central party accounts and constituency offices. However, all Sinn Féin's elected representatives also keep their TD and MLA expenses allowances.

According to the party's accounts, the entire Sinn Féin party, both North and South, had €1.5m in income last year, just under €800,000 of which went towards running the party machine in the Republic.

Responding to questions on whether the number of volunteers left the party open to local funding abuse, Sinn Féin director of finances Des Mackin said the nature of Sinn Féin meant it attracted activists willing to work for free.

"Apart from the employees, our whole party is based on political activism by voluntary activists. We can't emphasis that enough. We don't have to pay for people to put our posters up.

"We don't have to pay for people to do all the other things like other parties have to do," he said.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams last night attacked Mr McDowell, saying his allegations against the party were overtly political and unacceptable. "There is no substance to these allegations, whatsoever and they go beyond the normal cut and trust of acceptable political comment, not least because Michael McDowell is speaking in his capacity as minister for justice," he added.

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