07/02/2008

Paisley Jnr Defends 'Three Paycheck' Controversy

The Assembly Junior Minister, MLA, and Assistant to Paisley Snr at Westminster, Ian Paisley Jnr, has spoken out in defence of his present 'triple whammy' of government offices.

Reports earlier this week revealed that Paisley Jnr, on top of his two Stormont positions, was also on his father’s House of Commons payroll as a parliamentary assistant, totaling three paychecks from the public purse.

The controversy details came to light after a crack-down on payments to family members was sparked by an investigation into Tory MP Derek Conway’s research payments to his son.

However, Ian Paisley Jnr yesterday said he had worked with his father for 20 years, and had declared the role in the Assembly's register of interests since 1998.

MLA’s and MP’s are entitled to employ family members under Westminster and Assembly rules.

He also said: "I have never once received a complaint about my work or my work rate and the people I interact with have extremely pressing problems and they receive an efficient and effective service."

Mr Paisley Jnr’s statement came after the Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Sir Alistair Graham, said: "I would call on him to explain to the people at large how much public funding he's actually been accessing, so that taxpayers can determine whether they are getting value for money."

SDLP MLA Declan O'Loan, in response to the revelations, said: "There are fundamental unanswered questions on the level of payments and the hours involved."

Mr Paisley Jnr’s two Assembly posts as an MLA and a Junior Minister in his father's department earn him some £60,000 a year.

(DW)


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