Sinn Fein TD avoids ‘industrial wage’ stipulation

A senior Sinn Fein figure has revealed he struck a deal with the party that allows him to take his full TD’s salary rather than the ‘average industrial wage,’ a newspaper has reported.

Dublin North West TD Dessie Ellis told the Irish Independent that he had been drawing down his entire €89,965 salary since 2011 – instead of taking the €37,000 stipulated by Sinn Fein with the rest going back to the party for constituency purposes.

Speaking at a press conference in April last year, Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said she was proud of the party’s industrial wage tradition.

She said it kept Sinn Féin “rooted” and “real”.

However, Ms McDonald said a review of the policy was taking place, and added: “I am proud of the fact that those of us who are elected, and who stand before you in the rain, are not here on the basis of climate or financial gain.

“It keeps us rooted, it keeps us real. But we live in the real world and these things have to be reviewed. We will decide on it democratically.”

Mr Ellis, a former IRA prisoner from the Finglas area of Dublin, was elected to the Dáil in 2011. He said the decision to draw down his entire salary was taken due to personal financial matter, but that his wage policy could change in the future.

“I am working with the party on this matter,” Mr Ellis added.

In a statement, a Sinn Féin spokesperson said it was for individual TDs to decide if they adhered to the policy.

“The Sinn Féin average wage is adhered to on an entirely voluntary basis by the party’s elected representatives, and is a matter for them only,” it said.

During a libel action in 2016, then Sinn Fein MLA Phil Flanagan told Belfast High Court that his £48,000 basic MLA salary was paid into an account to which the party had access. Mr Flanagan said Sinn Fein then paid him £2,000 a month – or £24,000 a year.

At that time the party said some Dublin TDs that the existing pay structure made it difficult to live in the Irish capital.

Although the Irish Independent reports Mr Ellis having been in receipt of his full salary since his election in 2011, during a Twitter exchange with former Irish football international Paul McGrath the following year, the Dublin TD said: “I take home about the same as on [sic] average industrial wage as SF TD. Friends and family struggling w/unemployment.”

In November last year, a former Omagh Sinn Fein councillor Sorcha McAnespy told the News Letter that she was put was under to donate regular chunks of her salary to the party despite struggling to make ends meet as a single mother of three.”

Omagh independent councillor Sorcha McAnespy said she encountered expectations that she should transfer up to £90 per month to party coffers out of her annual councillor’s ‘wage’ of around £14,000.