Northern Ireland

Stormont MLAs reveal family member employment

Stormont
Image caption MLAs are required to reveal if they are paying a family member from their publicly-funded Office Cost Allowances.

Two DUP assembly members have reported hiring members of their family in the updated register of interests.

Jonathan Craig hired his sister as a secretary last November, while Mervyn Storey hired his daughter as a part-time office assistant for three months last summer.

Another DUP MLA David McIlveen, revealed his father will no longer be employed as a part-time researcher as of 31 January.

He was hired in October 2012.

These are some of the latest declarations, as members are required to reveal if they are paying a family member from their publicly-funded Office Cost Allowances.

The Alliance MLA for South Belfast Anna Lo, who had previously declared that she occasionally obtained office supplies from her husband's company, reported that interest had now ceased.

A number of MLAs declared foreign trips.

Ms Lo said she went to China, specifically Beijing and Sichuan province, as a guest of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office. The trip included European and African politicians with Chinese Heritage.

DUP Junior Minister Jonathan Bell recorded a trip to China to attend a Confucius Institute conference. The cost of the flights, hospitality and accommodation was met by the Confucius Institute at the University of Ulster.

Ulster Unionist MLA Joanne Dobson visited the United States to participate in the International Visitors Leadership Programme, funded by the US State Department.

The SDLP's Fearghal McKinney, MLA for South Belfast, reported he is a director in SDLP Property Ltd which owns the party's headquarters on the Ormeau Road. He said this was because he was a party officer when the company was set up.

Other new interests include a declaration by Education Minister John O'Dowd that he had received a gift from JP McManus at an award ceremony last November. It was a silver horse ornament.

The register indicates a number of MLAs continue to employ family members.

The DUP's Jonathan Bell, the junior minister and MLA for Strangord, employs his wife as a part-time secretary and researcher.

Another DUP minister, Nelson McCausland, MLA for North Belfast, employs his nephew as a constituency worker.

The DUP's Paula Bradley, MLA North Belfast, employs her cousin part-time as an office-assistant while Trevor Clarke, DUP South Antirm, employs his wife part-time as a clerical assistant.

Sammy Douglas, DUP East Belfast MLA, employs his son as a researcher, as does Gordon Dunne, DUP MLA for North Down. His colleague in North Down, Alex Easton employs his wife as a part-time clerical officer.

Paul Frew, DUP MLA North Antrim, employs his wife as a full-time researcher.

The DUP's Paul Girvan, MLA South Antrim, employs his son as a part-time researcher. Paul Givan, DUP MLA for Lagan Valley, employs his father as a part-time researcher.

The DUP MLA for Foyle and assembly Speaker William Hay employs his brother-in-law as office manager.

William Irwin, DUP MLA for Newry and Armagh, employs his daughter as a part-time office assistant.

Ian McCrea, DUP MLA for Mid-Ulster employs his wife as a secretary and his brother-in-law as researcher and personal assistant.

A brother of the DUP MLA for Strangford, Michelle McIlveen, works as her office manager and researcher.

The SDLP's Alex Attwood, MLA West Belfast, employs his brother as a constituency assistant while the SDLP's Joe Byrne, MLA for West Tyrone, employs his wife as a part-time driver and secretary.

John Dallat, SDLP MLA for East Londonderry, employs his wife as an office administrator. The SDLP's Dolores Kelly, MLA for Upper Bann, continues to indicate that her husband works for her on a part-time temporary basis as a constituency assistant. He was hired in September 2012.

The SDLP's Karen McKevitt, MLA for South Down, has previously employed her children on a part-time basis on short-term contracts.

Her daughter worked from July to September last year as a researcher and administrative while her son worked in this role for her for around six weeks last spring.

Ulster Unionist MLA Leslie Cree, North Down, employs his wife as a part-time researcher. Ulster Unionist MLA Joanne Dobson, Upper Bann, employs her sister one day a week as a clerical officer.

The Alliance's Stephen Farry, MLA North Down, and minister for Employment and Learning, employs his wife as a senior researcher. His party-colleague Kieran McCarthy, MLA for Strangford, employs his son part-time to carry out general office duties.

The TUV leader and North Antrim MLA continues to employ his daughter as a part-time secretary and office manager.

No Sinn Fein MLA directly employs a family member but Sinn Fein's Fra McCann, MLA West Belfast, has stated a niece of MP Paul Maskey and MLA Alex Maskey, works for him as a personal assistant.

The Ulster Unionist MLA for South Belfast Michael McGimpsey continues to rent office space from a company in which his brother is a major shareholder.

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