20/02/2008

DUP Not Disclosing 'Family' Staffing

The DUP has been left behind as the sole NI party not to have revealed which of its members have family members employed in backroom posts.

Details emerged from the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) - where it has been revealed that seven UUP members are currently employing family members - and paying them from the public purse.

The remaining 11 members have no relatives on their staff - according to the announcement by the party.

Present rules state that members are permitted to hire family members into their staff.

However, pressure for more transparency is mounting - on the DUP in particular - to make details available about any relatives in their employment.

The matter is particlarly highlighted as Ian Paisley Jnr has just resigned from his office of NI Executive Junior Minister in the midst of a volley of criticisms, including that surrounding the way he is being employed by his MP father as a political aid in Westminster.

This means the DUP MLA and Junior Minister has been receiving a third wage - also funded by the taxpayer.

This week Sir Reg Empey addressed the matter in a letter to the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown: “There are a range of matters which I believe are bringing politics into disrepute. These include the employment of family members in unjustifiable circumstances.

"Multiple mandates and responsibility allowances - these are rife in Northern Ireland but may not be such a problem in the rest of the UK,” he wrote.

Mr Empeys remarks mirror those of former Parliamentary Commissioner for standards Sir Alistair Graham who, speaking out on Tuesday, said Ian Paisley Jnr’s resignation was a good chance to address the issue of ministerial code reform, and that it was essential to create a system where all potential conflicts of interest were removed.

See: P45 For Paisley Junior

(DW)




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