The money, you see, was only resting in Elisha McCallion’s account. That, at least, is the version of reality we are being asked to accept by the Sinn Fein leadership, which yesterday sought, and received, the resignation of the Derry-born senator over the mysterious diversion of ten thousand pounds of UK taxpayers money, which ended up in a bank account controlled by her.
The money was paid in March. It was not returned until earlier this week, when it was reported by the media:
Under the scheme, £10,000 was paid to businesses in receipt of the North’s Small Business Rate Relief, whose bank details were held by Land & Property Services for rating purposes.
The rush to design a support meant there were problems with the scheme, which saw around £4.5m (€5m) paid to businesses deemed ineligible for payments. Political offices were specifically excluded form the support.
In McCallion’s case, the money was paid into a bank account owned by herself and her husband Declan. The payment was made around late March or early April.
Here’s what the now Ex-Senator had to say for herself:
In a statement, Ms McCallion apologised and said she had not applied for the grant and did not receive any correspondence about it from the Department of the Economy.
“I fully accept that as a named signature on the account that I should have taken steps to verify this situation, before it was brought to my attention on Monday,” she said.
“The money was repaid in full on Tuesday.
“I apologise unreservedly for the poor judgement I showed in relation to this and therefore, last night I spoke to the party leader and tendered my resignation as a member of Seanad Éireann with immediate effect.”
How credible is this?
If you or your spouse received ten thousand pounds sterling for which you had not applied, would you just…..not notice?
Because that seems to be McCallion’s defence. She received ten thousand pounds, and it just stayed there, sitting in her account, throughout April, May, June, July, August, September, and most of October. Not once did she question what it was for. Not once did she ask was she entitled to it. Heck, we’re almost expected to believe that not once did she even notice it was there, in a personal bank account operated with her husband.
Come on, now.
Sinn Fein did not seek Ms. McCallion’s resignation, let me tell you, because they believed her. They sought it, pretty transparently, because they did not believe her.
And it wasn’t just her, was it? Two other Sinn Fein accounts received ten grand payments back in March. Not one penny of the money was returned until the media discovered the issue. Is it really a coincidence that this same thing would happen three times in the same political party? It is notable that it hasn’t happened to the DUP, the Ulster Unionists, Alliance, or the SDLP, but that three Sinn Fein officials just didn’t notice their sudden influx of wealth.
None of this will change the opinion of devoted Sinn Fein voters, of course.
But the rest of us should probably consider how it is that these calamities always seem to befall one political party, and wonder somewhat about the culture that allows them to take place.
If Sinn Fein can’t be trusted with taxpayer funding in the north of Ireland, is it really a good idea to entrust them with it in the south?