29/09/2009

MLAs' Expenses Revealed

Nearly £8m was claimed in expenses by Northern Ireland's 108 MLAs during the last financial year.

More than £2.5m has already been claimed since April 2009, it was also revealed.

According to figures released yesterday, SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey was the highest claimant at Stormont between 2008/09.

His expenses topped £95,000, although £11,000 of this was related to disability allowance following a hip replacement.

The lowest claimant, Gregory Campbell, had expenses of £37,000.

David Simpson, and Peter and Iris Robinson were also among those making the smallest claims.
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MPs generally had lesser outgoings due to the Westminster allowances provided to run their offices.

DUP Minister Arlene Foster, UUP Deputy Leader Danny Kennedy, Sinn Fein's Raymond McCartney and Tom Elliott of the UUP had the most significant Stormont claims.

Between April and July this year SDLP Minister Margaret Richie has claimed £39,000, making her the highest claimant so far.

A spokesperson for the South Down MLA said she had incurred "exceptional" costs after a member of staff fell ill.

A new employee was hired to cover the work, while sick pay was simultaneously being paid out.

MLAs travelling from rural constituencies, close to the border, continue to be the biggest claimants.

(PR/BMcC)

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