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Need for reform of MEPs expenses - Mary Lou McDonald

12 April, 2005

Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today said that the party is in favour of 'real reform of MEPs expenses'. Ms McDonald made her comments after both she and Bairbre de Brún MEP voted in favour of a report by Ona Jukneviciene MEP in regards to the EU's general budget. Both Sinn Féin MEPs supported moves to standardise MEP salaries, greater accountability in MEPs general allowances, allowances to reflect real costs incurred by MEPs, greater transparency around secretarial assistance allowance and calling for MEPs to take the decision on where the European Parliament should sit.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms McDonald said:

"Sinn Féin is committed to equality within the European Parliament. On this basis, both I and Bairbre de Brún voted in favour of the report by Ona Jukneviciene MEP in regards to the EU's general budget. Since the most recent enlargement of the European Union in May 2004, there has been a discrepancy between members' salaries. MEPs from the recently enlarged states are paid significantly less than many of their Western European counterparts.

"In light of this, we believe that there should be a single remuneration for members of the European Parliament. It is worth pointing out that in line with party policy, Sinn Féin MEPs receive an average industrial wage, with the remainder paid into the party for development and constituency services.

"Sinn Féin also voted in favour of a resolution that MEPs general expenditure allowances be accounted for and for secretarial assistance allowances to be made more transparent. The European Parliament has a reputation for being a 'gravy train' and clearly abuses take place. Sinn Féin is committed to making the EU accountable to the people for its actions and in how it carries out its work.

"It is hugely disappointing that a majority of MEPs voted against this motion. People in Ireland and across Europe expect their elected representatives to be accountable to them. This decision will do nothing to instil confidence in a sceptical public.

"I want to commend Mr Jukneviciene for his report. Sinn Féin will continue our work to make the EU a more accountable body both in Ireland and throughout Europe." ENDS

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