The income of Sinn Féin in Noord almost twice that of DUP

Sinn Féin remains with a considerable margin the largest earning and spending party in Northern Ireland, according to the latest Election Commission figures in Northern Ireland.

The figures for 2017 also show that the fifth largest party in the North, Alliance, spends considerably more and occupies more than the third largest party, the SDLP.

Last year, when both Assembly and Westminster elections took place in Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin had an income of just over £ 1 million and an expense of £ 1,139,000.

The £ 1,009,000 income from Sinn Féin was almost double that of the largest party in the North, the DUP. It cost £ 510,000 and spent £ 461,000.

The next on the list was the Ulster Unionist Party with an income of £ 458,000 and £ 552,000 spent.

Apart from the high income and high expenses of Sinn Féin, it was most striking that the Alliance, which won eight seats in the Assembly elections last year, had an income of £ 360,000 and expenses of £ 355,000.

This is similar to the SDLP, which won 12 seats, which cost £ 236,977 and spend £ 219,928.

The SDLP is in financial difficulties since losing its three Westminster chairs last year. The party lost about £ 100,000 in funding for research and policy development.

The figures are released as the SDLP and Fianna Fáil consider a merger, with announcements on such a movement predicted for the fall.

The Electoral Commission has also announced that it has imposed the DUP £ 1,000 for incorrect quarter-number reporting. The two £ 500 fines were paid in August.

The Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) party was fined £ 1,000 for the late delivery of spending returns for the 2017 general election.

The committee member Ann Watt said it is "vital that voters get a chance to see accurate and fully-reported data about what parties spend money on to influence them in elections and referendums".

"This provides transparency in the political financing system and is open to everyone to control," she added.

"The commission will continue to enforce these requirements for all parties and campaigners to ensure that voters have the information they need," says Watt.

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