Page last updated at 13:25 GMT, Thursday, 6 December 2012

Enterprise Committee

The Enterprise Committee questioned the size of the chief executive of Invest Northern Ireland's new pay deal, on 6 December 2012.

It consolidated Alastair Hamilton's bonus into a salary of between £185,000 and £190,000 a year.

This represented an increase in basic salary of between £25,000 and £30,00 a year for Mr Hamilton, who was tasked with developing the local economy.

Until now the chief executive's basic salary was £160,000, but on top of that he was entitled to an annual performance-related bonus worth up to another 30% of his salary.

In 2011, there was controversy when Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster, signed off on the bonus element during her final day in office before the Assembly election.

In the end, Mr Hamilton decided not to accept the £36,000 bonus pending the outcome of a review.

The chairman of Invest NI Mark Ennis said the pay deal was justified given Mr Hamilton's record of attracting jobs.

Mr Ennis said he personally favoured performance-related pay, but Mr Hamilton himself had come to the previous chairman and advised there were sensitivities around what would be viewed as a bonus and recommended a flat salary to be considered.

Earlier during the meeting, Mr McGlone said Mr Hamilton's salary would be discussed but that it would not be appropriate for him to be "at the top bench" when this would happen.

The DUP's Robin Newton and Sinn Fein's Phil Flanagan said they did not think it appropriate to to be inquiring into this whilst the chief executive was even in the room.

Mr Hamilton gave a briefing on Invest NI's half year performance following the discussion on his pay deal.

Members also discussed attacks on Alliance party offices and the home of two Alliance councillors which had taken place the night before.

Patsy McGlone, the SDLP chairman of the committee, said there had been "anti-democratic and fascist forces at work".

He said he "utterly condemned" the violence which saw Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson's constituency office in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, ransacked and set on fire.

The home of two Alliance councillors, who have a 17-month old child, was also attacked in Bangor, County Down.

The violence broke out after people turned out to protest against Belfast City Council's decision to stop flying the union flag every day.

"We need to send a collective message. The democratic process will not be interfered with by those who seek to intimidate people as they go about their normal public duties on behalf of the whole committee" Mr McGlone said.

The DUP's Gordon Dunne said there was "no place" for violence and if people wanted change it should be done through the ballot box.

Committee members agreed to write to the individuals affected.

Enterprise committee membership


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