Sinn Féin’s income and spending outstripped other parties’ last year

Posted By: September 01, 2017

John Manley. Irish News. Belfast. Friday, September 1, 2017

Sinn Féin’s income and spending last year far outstripped that of Stormont’s other parties, fresh figures from the Electoral Commission reveal.

The 2016 financial accounts for The North’s political parties with an income greater than £250,000 show Sinn Féin banked £1.18 million last year, while spending was £1.25m.

Expenditure outstripping income is a common theme for all five main parties, with the DUP spending £65,000 more than it brought in last year.

DUP overall spending totaled £858,000 compared to an income of £792,000.

The Ulster Unionist Party spent £104,000 more than the £477,000 it banked, while the SDLP outgoings were nearly £60,000 more than its income of £319,000.

The Alliance Party overspend was a comparatively small £14,000 from an income of £265,000.

However, Alliance’s failure to submit an independent audit of its accounts to the Electoral Commission by the July 7 deadline, as required by law, will be now considered in line with watchdog’s enforcement policy.

Last night an Alliance spokesman said its failure to submit an audit was an “oversight”, which he attributed to “increased income and expenditure relating to the recent growth of the party”.

“As soon as it was drawn to our attention, it was immediately rectified and an audit submitted,” the spokesman said.

“The party is now fully compliant with Electoral Commission guidelines.”

Collectively, the five parties spent £3.34m while reporting a total income of just over £3m – an increase on the previous year’s expenditure of more than £700,000 compared to overall income growth of £384,000.

Electoral Commission head Ann Watt said: “The availability of these accounts is important for the transparency of political finance outside of election campaigns.

“People should be able to see how parties raise and spend money and be assured that their accounting is accurate and assessed by an independent auditor.”