Sinn Fein MPs' allowance reinstated

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The Independent Online

The decision restores the MPs' allowances they lost when the IRA was implicated in a Belfast bank robbery. They also get a political allowance worth more than £84,000, which has never before been granted to MPs who refuse to take the oath of allegiance.

The new money is equivalent to the "Short money" allocated to other opposition parties towards their parliamentary activities.

But objectors yesterday pointed out that the decision means rewriting the rules of the Commons for Sinn Fein's benefit. The money they receive will officially be to pay for "representative" activities. Tory MP David Wilshire claimed that the new allowance "plumbed new depths of appeasement to terror".

Tony Blair defended the allowances in the Commons, after Democratic Unionist MP, Nigel Dodds, alleged that the IRA was still engaged in "illegality, criminality, spying, racketeering". Mr Blair replied: "We are of the firm view that the present IRA leadership has taken the strategic decision to end the armed campaign and pursue the political course which it has publicly articulated."