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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 April 2006, 18:29 GMT 19:29 UK
Closing assembly could cost 3.5m
Stormont
The Stormont government has been suspended since October 2002
Closing the NI assembly, if attempts to revive it fail, is expected to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The BBC has learned that if the assembly ceases in November, the government is prepared to hand members up to 1.7m to cover their expenses.

A golden handshake on top of that has not been ruled out, BBC political correspondent Martina Purdy said.

All 108 assembly members will be in line for a winding-up allowance of as much as 16,000 each.

This is normally paid when a member stands down or fails to get re-elected and is meant to cover costs such as paying off staff, correspondence and closing offices.

The golden handshake could be a minimum of 16,000, bringing the bill for closing the assembly, which has not met since 2002, to around 3.5m

It could cost up to 1.7m as it would apply to all the members.

Martina Purdy said: "The government has not decided yet whether assembly members should get a golden handshake 'resettlement allowance' on top of this if the assembly closes."

The allowance is normally paid to members who do not seek re-election or do not get re-elected.

In the last assembly, the golden handshake was worth about half of the annual salary.

If the same rule was applied this time, the golden handshake could be a minimum of 16,000, bringing the bill for closing the assembly, which has not met since 2002, to about 3.5m.

On top of this, each member will be entitled to a pension.

The government, however, is hoping that the matter will not arise and that the assembly will come back for good next month.


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