Source: Social Democratic and Labour Party of Northern Ireland
SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood MP has said that it is shocking but not surprising that Sinn Féin constituency offices received payments from the emergency COVID-19 fund for small businesses and this is yet another example of there being one rule for Sinn Féin and another for ordinary people.
The Foyle MP commented:
“The Small Business Grant Scheme, approved in the Executive by Sinn Féin Ministers, was designed to support local employers suffering financial hardship and prevent them from going to the wall. For employers across the North, it was a lifeline.
“It is galling that three Sinn Féin offices received a £10k support payment, and appear to have done very little about it until they were asked by the media. Many businesses and workers across the North have yet to receive a single penny in assistance and they will be rightly furious that a political party, who just last year received a £4million donation, received this money.
“A number of serious questions need to be answered by Sinn Féin. Did Sinn Féin representatives apply for this Scheme or was it allocated in error? If it was allocated in error, when was it returned? This Scheme opened in March and if the money was only returned as recently as this week, people will rightly wonder what the reason for the long delay is.”
“Did Sinn Féin representatives in receipt of the payments raise the issue with their party colleague, the Finance Minister? And did he act to resolve the issue with LPS, an arms length body of his Department?”
“When did Sinn Féin leadership become aware of this and what steps did they take to resolve it? As Joint Head of Government, Michelle O’Neill regularly engages with small businesses in financial despair. People will rightly wonder how she was able to look them in the eye, knowing her party colleagues pocketed 30k in public money.”
“Here in Derry, people will be surprised to learn that Elisha McCallion benefitted from this financial assistance for her office. Where is that office? It appears the address is not publicly available, with her office address on the Oireachtas website listed as Leinster House. Did Senator McCallion receive funds for an office that is not accessible to her constituents?”
“Whether it’s hundreds of thousands of pounds in public money going to a research company operated by Sinn Féin staff, accepting £4m in the North to avoid donation limits in the South, or this, it’s clear conscience comes second to cash for Sinn Féin. This is yet another example of there being one rule for ordinary people across the North and another rule for them.”