It will come as no surprise to anyone who has followed politics in the North of Ireland in recent years, that Sinn Fein has become the richest of all the political parties operating there. (There are some spin-off’s from the peace process that are never mentioned in polite company!)
Figures released by the Electoral Commission yesterday show that SF’s annual income for 2014 at £1.19 million tops the league table, followed by the DUP at £482k, the SDLP comes third at £440k and last, the once mighty Ulster Unionists, with a paltry £342k.
In other words, SF’s income in 2014 was not far shy of the total income of all the other major parties combined!
Sinn Fein’s income is not broken down into any real detail but into categories: ‘Donations’, ‘Grants’ and something called ‘Sundry Income’. Only ‘Grants’ are described in any detail, and they provide evidence of the financial benefits of dropping abstentionism, or in the case of Westminster, partial abstentionism: ‘Donations’ presumably refers in part to all those Yankee greenbacks Gerry collects every time he travels to Manhattan and hosts dinners for various Irish-American construction companies and their, um, Italian-American friends. (Incidentally SF have Tony Blair to thank for exclusion from the requirement applied to parties elsewhere in the UK to list in detail their foreign donors. Jeremy Corbyn, how are you?)
The rest may be made up of contributions from elected parliamentarians who are obliged to give part of their income to party headquarters (depriving some, alas, of necessary cosmetics and hairdo’s).
But what on earth does ‘Sundry Income’ mean? Last year it amounted to nearly £243k, a sum not to be sniffed at.
Any ideas, dear readers?
Answers on a postcard to Sean ‘Spike’ Murray, c/o Sinn Fein offices, Stormont Parliament, Belfast. (Before you buy the stamp, have a quick read of this)
In the meantime here, for what it is worth, is the electoral commission’s financial report on NI’s wealthiest political party.