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Three Sinn Féin members resign after failing to return wrongly received NI grant money

Senator Elisha McCallion was one of the three members to resign.

File image of Elisha McCallion.
File image of Elisha McCallion.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Images

THREE MEMBERS OF Sinn Féin, including a senator, have resigned from the party after failing to immediately return a business grant payment of £10,000 (€11,060) incorrectly received by party offices in Northern Ireland. 

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald outlined in a statement this afternoon that the payments were automatically received by the party offices of these three members earlier this year. 

“The payments were not applied for and were automatically received as part of the round of grant payments in late March/early April from the Land and Property Service,” McDonald said. 

This scheme was put in place to help small businesses affected by Covid-19. It opened up for applications in March and closed at the end of May. 

However, the grant money was not returned immediately, which McDonald described as “unacceptable”. 

“In each case the grant money has been returned in full, with repayments made on Monday and Tuesday of this week,” she said. 

The party has established in each case where responsibility lay for the administration of the accounts in question and for the reimbursement of these monies.

McDonald accepted the resignation of Senator Elisha McCallion from the party last night, adding that the senator “accepts full responsibility for the failure to return the grant immediately”. 

McCallion currently sits on the Industrial and Commercial Panel in the Seanad. 

The party also accepted the resignation of an official in west Tyrone who was responsible for the administration of an account which wrongfully received the grant money. 

McDonald said this person “failed to promptly return the grant money despite being requested to do so by Maolíosa McHugh MLA”. 

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McHugh is a Sinn Féin politician in the North. 

The chairperson of the Upper Bann constituency organisation also tendered their resignation after failing to return the grant money in a timely fashion. 

“The Small Business Grant scheme was established to support struggling businesses in times of extraordinary hardship,” McDonald said. 

The failure to immediately return grants erroneously paid into Sinn Féin accounts is a most serious situation.

“As party leader I wish to acknowledge and apologise for these failures.” 

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