Thursday, 22 October 2015

Hokey Cokey Ministers

Image result for hokey cokey + images

The BBC reported that ministers in the Northern Ireland Assembly were playing 'fast and loose' with public money after a series of DUP members kept resigning from their ministerial portfolios, only to change their minds and step back into these well paid  jobs a few days later. 

So, far no one seems to know whether the ministers' pay has been 'docked' for the days when these politicians were not at their desks, so to speak.

Maybe an Freedom of Information request would help get to the bottom of things which I might just do myself as I've never submitted and FoI request to the Northern Ireland Assembly before. 

DUP ministers 'to repay salaries' says Simon Hamilton

BBC - N. Ireland Politics

Image caption - Northern Ireland is currently without a health minister after the resignation of Simon Hamilton

Simon Hamilton has said the DUP is making arrangements with the assembly so its "in-out" ministers will not be paid for the days they are in office.

While talks continue to resolve the current Stormont crisis, the DUP has a policy of keeping its ministers in office for only a few hours each week.

Mr Hamilton, the health minister, said any salaries paid since the rolling resignations began would be paid back.

Earlier, the assembly said it had not received instructions on any payments.

"Currently, the assembly has not received instructions from any minister regarding the payment or non payment of their office holder's salary," a spokesperson said.

In a statement, the DUP said: "The party leader indicated on the day of the initial resignations that DUP ministers would not be keeping ministerial salary money.

"As the money is paid under legislation by the assembly we have had discussions with the assembly finance authorities about not only stopping future payments but also the repayment of any payments previously made. As a result of those discussions appropriate arrangements are be made to ensure that happens."

Mr Hamilton also said that the party's ministers would go back into full-time office if and when there was what the party believed was "sufficient progress" in the inter-party talks.
'Backfired badly'

The SDLP's Alban Maginness told BBC Talkback that the situation was a "total mess".

"It has backfired very, very badly on the DUP," he said.

"The news that we've just received that the finance office hasn't received any repayments by those ministers - that will cause an absolute outrage.

"I don't accept that you can't go to the finance office and say 'by the way my instructions are please do not pay me for being a minister'. I believe that can be done."
'People outraged'

NI21 leader Basil McCrea also said the move was "playing badly" for the DUP.

Image captionTUV leader Jim Allister has criticised the DUP's over the ministerial resignations

"People are absolutely outraged that ministers would be appearing to be do nothing and yet get paid for it and they're not happy about them resigning as well - they just think it's a bad way to go about politics," he said.

TUV leader Jim Allister said "I have been asking some questions of the assembly commission about this, and any day that the minister is in office - and it seems no matter how short a period of that day - he is paid.

"If they are obtaining that money then of course it should be refunded and refunded in whole to the public purse."

The DUP move came as a result of the political crisis at Stormont that was triggered following a police assessment that IRA members were involved in the murder of a former IRA man in Belfast in August