Hay wants Sinn Féin wealth probe

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Willie Hay has attacked Sinn Féin in the House of Lords telling peers the Government should launch a probe to determine whether “criminality and unearned gains” are helping finance the party.

But Sinn Féin hit back reminding the long-serving DUP representative that his office on Ebrington Terrace is the only one locally, which has been subject to a criminal investigation lately.

A spokesperson referred to a PSNI fraud investigation launched last year in relation to irregular fuel expenditure claims.

Speaking during a debate in the upper house the local DUP man, who took his seat as Lord Hay of Ballyore earlier this year, said: “I have believed for some time that the criminality and the money made from criminality goes to political parties.

“We should say that. We have a political party on the island of Ireland that is almost the richest anywhere in Europe.

“It is the second-richest party in Europe. That is something that the Government ought to look at and continue to look at: whether that criminality and those unearned gains are going to a particular party.”

But a spokesperson for Sinn Féin responded: “Willie Hay’s comments are disgraceful and beneath contempt and some may argue even a bit rich given an ongoing criminal investigation into the misuse of public funds in a DUP constituency office.

“Sinn Féin is the only political party on the island of Ireland, which as a matter of course publishes a full record of our finances on an annual basis.

“Our finances are open and transparent and available for public scrutiny.

“I would suggest that Willie Hay, rather than indulge himself in a bout of unsupported allegations and speculation should encourage his own and other parties to be equally transparent so that the public can be properly informed of where and from whom every political party receives its funding.”

During his contribution at Westminster, Lord Hay also said people needed to stop giving criminals any sort of cover by referring to them as “paramilitary organisations.”

He also expressed worry over whether the police have the proper resources to deal with cross-border crime.

“I have to say that we do give them a platform if we describe them as ‘paramilitary organisations.’

“We need to get away from that. They are criminals and should be dealt with by the PSNI.

“I have some worries whether the PSNI has the proper resources to deal with the criminality, which is not just right across Northern Ireland but right across the island of Ireland, on both sides of the border.

“I have said for some time that there are issues in and around resources for the PSNI. It is something that the Government should look at seriously.”