Sinn Fein’s presidential candidate’s salary of £53,000 is “an insult” to low-paid workers and the party should reveal which other members do not abide by its industrial wage policy, People Before Profit has said.
West Belfast People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll was speaking after Sinn Fein’s presidential hopeful Liadh Ní Riada MEP, admitted taking a salary of €60,000 (£53,000).
Sinn Fein has long had a policy that members only take an average industrial wage from their salary and donate the rest to the party. However, an increasing number of members have admitted taking their full salaries.
As presidential candidate Ms Liadh Ní Riada put it in one previous interview, the policy was so they can be “in touch with the reality of what it’s like to be an ordinary working-class person in Ireland”.
She added: “Now, I acknowledge I’m on a good wage, there’s no question about that.
“But at the same time, the cost of living in this country has skyrocketed, as you know, so it’s very difficult, even if you have two people working.”
But Mr Carroll took issue with her revelations.
“Why should politicians receive a salary that is double the average wage (or more) of the constituents they represent?” he said.
“I only take an average worker’s wage, as per People Before Profit policy for all of our elected reps. Any party that proclaims to be on the left, in my view should operate within this principle.
“Many people will be asking the question ‘who else does not abide by the average industrial wage policy within Sinn Fein?’. It seems astonishing to me that somebody can claim they need €60,000 or more to get by financially in the South. This is an insult to all the low-paid workers and people on benefits who get by and raise families on a lot less.”
Former Sinn Fein MLA Daithi McKay said there is a debate within Sinn Fein.
“I don’t think it should come as any surprise that more Sinn Fein representatives are taking a salary that is above the average industrial wage,” he said.
“There are those in the party who would like to see the average industrial wage policy maintained. However, the party is clearly being pulled in a direction of being more flexible.
“This is because they need to ensure that they hold on to talented representatives but also because the decision over whether they pass on part of their salary to Sinn Fein can only be made by the representatives themselves.”
In 2017 it was revealed that Sinn Fein TD Dessie Ellis takes his full salary of £79,000. In 2016, then Sinn Fein MLA Phil Flanagan revealed his party only allowed him to take £24,000 of his £48,000 MLA salary. Ex-Sinn Fein councillor and single mother-of-three Sorcha McAnespy said last year the party took £90 a month of her her £14,000 salary.
Sinn Fein has not offered any comment.