Page last updated at 07:00 GMT, Thursday, 26 November 2009

One third of MLAs 'employ family'

Stormont debating chamber
Assembly members are entitled to employ relatives

About a third of MLAs are employing relatives out of assembly funds, according to the assembly's new register of interests.

Some assembly members have hired more than one relation to work in their constituency offices.

The register, published on Thursday, follows a tightening in the rules to create greater transparency.

Although MLAs are allowed to employ relatives, they have to log it in the register of interests.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan is the only leader of the four main parties to employ a family member - his wife works for him as a secretary on a part-time basis.

More than 12 DUP MLAs employ family members, including Newry and Armagh representative William Irwin who employs his two daughters as office assistants and Mid Ulster MLA Ian McCrea, who employs his wife and brother-in-law.

Other information revealed includes the fact that Ian Paisley Jnr earns £9,000 per annum for working 10 to 14 hours a week as a political assistant for his father, Ian Snr.


Eight Ulster Unionists are employing relations, including East Antrim representative Ken Robinson whose wife works as his secretary and son who is employed as a researcher.

Half the SDLP assembly team employ family - among them Alex Attwood who employs his brother as a constituency aide.

Sinn Fein's Fra McCann employs the niece of two assembly colleagues.

The register also reveals that Gerry Adams is paid £9,600 working as an author for 18 hours a month for Belfast Media Group Newspapers.

Independent MLA Dr Kieran Deeny employs his wife as a part-time secretary while Green MLA Brian Wilson employs his son to do office work.

Dr Deeny also continues to receive an annual salary of £65,000 for his medical work, which averaged 22 hours per week. However GP expenses are then paid out of this annual gross salary.

Alliance MLA Stephen Farry has hired his wife as a researcher, while his assembly colleague Anna Lo has revealed she occasionally pays her brother to translate documents into Chinese for constituents.

The register also reveals details of council pay, estimates of how many hours those with multiple mandates put in and other outside earnings.

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