Sinn Féin was prevented on Thursday from receiving 440,000 pounds sterling ($1m) of allowances and funding by the British government in connection with the party’s elected members of the Westminster parliament.
In a vote in the House of Commons, expenses such as salaries and travel costs were withdrawn by rival MPs without a vote. It follows a similar move announced last week in relation to the Belfast Assembly.
The retention of the funds been slammed as political discrimination by Sinn Féin and civil rights activists.
Britain’s Direct Ruler in Ireland Paul Murphy hailed the move, which he said was “deeply inadequate” following allegations of involvement by the Provisional IRA in a bank robbery before Christmas.
Both governments and the PSNI police have blamed the IRA for the raid, although no evidence has emerged to link the organisation to the theft in Belfast on December 20.
Republicans have linked the move to cut Sinn Féin funding to an ongoing media and political campaign to criminalise and defeat the republican cause.
At the height of the campaign, sums of cash seized in County Cork and elsewhere last month were linked to the IRA by the 26-County Garda police. This followed claims by the Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern that Sinn Féin’s leadership had effetively conspired in the raid.
However, in a development which garnered relatively little media interest, a quantity of money taken in the heist was found in sealed packets at a police social club outside Belfast.
Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy, speaking in London, said that the decision to remove allowances from Sinn Féin’s four MPs was as predictable as it was undemocratic.
“Republicans were challenged to take our analysis to the electorate,” he said. “We did so and as a result Sinn Féin is the largest pro-agreement party in the north and the third biggest party on the island of Ireland. The response of the establishment, North and South, is to move the goal posts and introduce undemocratic sanctions against Sinn Féin, which are based on unfounded allegations.
“It is no surprise that the British parliament should attack and discriminate against an Irish republican political party which challenges it right to rule part of our country.
“The decision today is a further attack not just on Sinn Féin and our political mandate but also on the people we represent.
“Sinn Féin will continue to resist all attempts to disenfranchise Sinn Féin and the hundreds and thousands of people we represent. We will continue to argue and promote Irish reunification and will continue to represent people from communities marginalised by the establishment.”