British government to punish Sinn Fein

The &to=http://' target=_blank>British government said Tuesday it will impose penalties on Parliamentary members loyal to the Irish Republican Army's (IRA) political wing, &to=http://' target=_blank>Sinn Fein, as punishment for the Northern Bank heist last December which is blamed on the IRA.

Secretary of State for &to=http://' target=_blank>Northern Ireland Paul Murphy proposed to the House of Commons, the lower house of British Parliament, to suspend payment of all parliamentary allowances to Sinn Fein's four lawmakers, including the party's leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, for one year.

However, Murphy said the four lawmakers will not lose their offices in Parliament or their access to other meeting rooms for news conferences inside Parliament, reports the Xinhua News.

Murphy also confirmed that Britain would continue to withhold a development grant from Sinn Fein worth about $230,000 annually.

Britain withdrew that benefit in April after an earlier commission report blamed the IRA for violent and illegal activities, including kidnapping, smuggling fuel and cigarettes, and breaking the limbs of criminal rivals.

Cutting off expense money is "designed to express the disapproval of all those who are committed to purely democratic politics at the actions of the Provisional IRA," Murphy said, using the outlawed group's full name, informs the Guardian.

According to the ABC News, Sinn Fein politician Alex Maskey said the party had no links to crime and was the victim of a politically-motivated smear. "Paul Murphy does not have one vote in Ireland," he said in a statement. "He has no right to discriminate against democratically elected Irish politicians. These actions are a distortion of democracy."

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