Junior minister, parliamentary assistant, MLA..

The implications of case of the Conservative MP, Derek Conway, have been rippling through the Assembly and the BBC’s Mark Devenport has some of the parties’ declared lists of family members employed, although the UUP have stated that they are in the process of compiling theirs. According to Mark’s post

The DUP won’t confirm any family details sticking to a statement issued on Friday by their chief whip Lord Morrow which says they have to respect the confidentiality of their 100 plus staff in more than 40 offices.

Interestingly, the Belfast Telegraph’s David Gordon has already spotted one DUP family member employed by another – namely NI Executive Junior minister, Ian Paisley Jnr.

Assembly register of interests is published online. The current version is dated July 2007, although it does include declarations by some MLAs dating back to the previous year. A number of members have updated their entries since last July – including Mr Paisley Jnr, who listed trips to China and Switzerland made in August and September 2007. His declaration of payment from his father is believed to relate to the DUP leader’s work as north Antrim MP. The MLA is named as one of his father’s three-strong team of parliamentary research assistants and secretaries in a current official register of Commons pass-holders.

The register of interests is here. [Ian Paisley Jnr’s entry last updated 26th October 2007]. That would explain why he had been signing letters on behalf of Ian Paisley Snr, MP, then-MEP, MLA.. It’s not, of itself, evidence of anything more than someone with three hats to wear.. but the question of what expenses can be claimed for which hat might be interesting. Update As Malcolm suggests in the comments zone below, Turgon’s post from last week, and the comments there, are also worth noting.

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  • noel adams

    As i understand it there are two basic bands for payment. Good tehephone and keyboard skils,15K to 20K.Degree level education engaded in reserch 20K to 27K.

  • Ian

    I’m surprised that Slugger hasn’t yet covered the other recent ‘scandal’ involving MPs – namely, the ‘revelation’ that they are subject to covert surveillance – considering the local angle on the story, i.e. SF MPs (and perhaps those from the other NI parties) have been bugged for years. I didn’t see Labour, the Tories and Lib Dems getting all precious and indignant about that!

  • David Gordon might have “discovered” that Junior is on the pay-roll at Westminster. It might even be “interesting”. It’s just not “news”. Even Mark Devenport is catching up.

    It was pretty-well all “discovered” here on Slugger last Wednesday (see the thread “Keeping politics in the family”).

  • pig’s back

    personally, i can’t wait for these stats to come out. sadly, neither unionist party will come out of it very well i feel. uncovering what members of familys working for representatives is one thing, but what work they actually do is quite another. unless the money train is more tightly regulated we are never likely to see the ‘time sheet’ type of evidence short of an investigation like conways.

    i think it is relatively well known that many unionist mlas run constituency offices from their homes. we will probably never find out how much money has been spend on office/home improvements; money paid to family/spouse for ‘call answering’ duties at home, nor evidence of fruitful endeavour for which payment has been recieved; to whom rent is paid in the letting of commercial constituency offices; where 9 previous years of ocas have gone – some members not returned at the last election failed, in circumstances of which i am aware, to maintain an office or demonstrable constituency staff for all bar one year in two electoral terms yet calimed the bulk of their entitlements.

    when you think of the many creative ways to syphon off the £70K plus p/a i fear the public may never know the full extent of the various ‘wheezes’ that have gone on and may continue to go on.

    i am not bashing ocas. i believe a well run constituency service once the assembly finds its feet is a valuable public asset. i just believe that many people, perhaps in partys less committed to their ideolgical goals, may on occasions have taen money showers at our expense.

  • Alex S

    Why should Big Ian pay Jun to do his constituency work when he could have passed it over to one of his fellow North Antrim MLAs, Jun for instance, is that not MLAs are paid for, and while the taxpayer was paying Jun to work for Daddy, who was Jun paying to do his constituency work, the wife?

  • shankly’s socialism

    I think he was also Senior’s MEP research assistant while he was an MLA too.

    It is hard enough to do the job of MLA, a good one would be busy 100% of the time and still turn stuff down..there is no way you could do more than one job.

    I would say an MLA gets about 40 grand plus expenses, a research assistant probably gets about 25 grand.

    Anyone who employs a family member are completely out of order, if it was me I couldn’t even if they merited the job, you would have to not to, to save face…I would be way to embarrassed, but then clearly our politicians have no shame.


    I was shocked to see the high number of family members working for their relatives. It would appear nepotism and cronyism is alive and well here and there must be a law introduced to outlaw it. When you enter, say a newspaper competition, there is always a footnote to say “employees and their relatives cannot enter”. Likewise politians are taking the proverbial with sons, daughters, wives, husbands etc on the payroll. There’s no doubt that these people exist in their own wee world making up the rules as they go along. No wonder they are always smiling and laughing in camera, wouldn’t you.

  • Danny O’Connor

    If an MP is also an MLA his MLA salary is reduced by two thirds-the rationale that he cannot take two salaries for representing his constituents full time in two places at once.As we are talking about public money being used to pay these salaries perhaps it should be further examined if a person can earn 70-80k as a minister and still be a full time researcher.

  • Danny O’Connor

    Pigs back,I agree but I myself kept a full time office open with 2 full time and 1 part time member of staff – none of whom were related to me.
    I have heard about MLAs building extensions on their house to use as an office,employing relatives to do constituency work etc…. but not everybody is that greedy for money,some actually believe in trying to provide a good professional service to their constituents.I know that I worked my guts out for 5 years.

  • pith

    Which of the Paisley children used to on the payroll of the European Parliament listed under “DUP Secretariat”? And how much was that worth?

  • darth rumsfeld

    “perhaps it should be further examined if a person can earn 70-80k as a minister and still be a full time researcher.”

    perhaps it should, but perhaps we should think before making such assumptions. Junior may well be down as a researcher to qualify him for a Commons security pass. He may not have done any work, and he may not have been paid for it. The story doesn’t prove he was a fulltime researcher

    Nothing in this story proves any behaviour of Conway proportions- tho’ more research will undoubtedly produce many family members on assorted MLA’s payrolls. How can we prove if any of these are non-jobs,like Conway’s sons had, as opposed to nepotistic employment practices in real jobs? Almost impossible.

  • Ian Paisley Junior, what a guy. Tireless MLA, defending the rights of his rich constituents even during tough negotiations, hardworking researcher for his Fathers office in Westminster. When does the poor man ever sleep. No wonder the man looks so dodgy*, he must be hopping up on every caffine product know to man.

    *for dodgy look up used car sales man.

  • shankly’s socialism

    @ darth rumsfeld

    shouldnt be too hard, if he is only on the list as a nominal researcher for pass purposes that will be that, but if he appears on the expenses then there should be trouble…I would be surprised if he wasnt paid for that and the research post for Senior when MEP.

    Robinson also has kids working for him and loads more MLAs – the SDLP list in the Tele last night was comprehensive too 🙂

  • J Kelly

    The SDLP and Alliance lists might be extensive but to be honest they are disraceful. How many of these jobs were advertised, how many people were interviewed, how many applied and did most importantly what are the salaries. We know the salaries of everyone else in public service including politicians but we don’t how much they pay their staff or family as it is in many cases.

    Danny how about your party leader, MP, MLA, Chair of Committee and to top it off he pays his wife part receptionist wage. He also employs a full time receptionist. How much do they take from the public purse I call it greed.

  • Bigger Picture

    It is a very interesting debate, to be honest I agree with some of the comments that Darth has already raised. Part of the problem is that there is no mechanism that forces any elected representative to disclose who they employ.

    Shankley’s Socialism

    “shouldnt be too hard, if he is only on the list as a nominal researcher for pass purposes that will be that, but if he appears on the expenses then there should be trouble”

    Except he won’t appear in any expenses as employee’s do not have to be named. The Derek Conway situation only came to light after a complaint from a rival UKIP turned BNP politician in his constituency.

    Danny O’Connor

    And great work you did in East Antrim pity that a return to stormont didn’t come your way for all your supposed endeavours. Rumours abound in politics I would be interested to see if any members have extended their house in order to have an office etc. That would make for a very juicy story and a definate resignation from the party concerned. However I don’t know of this ever happening but It is a good stroy if true.

    J Kelly

    “How many of these jobs were advertised, how many people were interviewed, how many applied and did most importantly what are the salaries”

    Aw yes because working in an issue sensitive constituency office is just like working for Tesco. I would love to hear how SF or any other party for that matter, gets around fair employment regulations. After all is SF going to advertise for jobs in the Shankill Mirror or just An Phoblact and the Atown News??

    At the end of the day while I am not defending any MLA’s there needs to be the realisation that working for a political party in a small country like ours does not exactly provide the biggest pool of labour. Especially before May when many did not know if they would even have a secure job. I would say that this is one reason why family members are employed in some cases. As stability grows maybe more people will see a career in politics and the family member situation will not be an issue.

    I would just like to make two further points on the issue:

    1) As a follow on from the comments of Darth it is one thing havinga family member on the payroll and an entirely different thing to have a family member on the payroll who does frig all. Let us not forget that after David Cameron suspended the Whip from Conway the Conservative party realeased a statement saying that up to 70 of their MP’s employ family members. Undoubtedly the majority of family employees are a great asset to a politician and may even provide a job loyalty and work ethic far greater than that of any non-attached employee (just a thought!)

    2) It is interesting that SF have a very low number of family members employed compared to the SDLP and probably the unionist parties as well. Is this anything to do with the fact that SF tries to attract young people as part of a “Republican Movement” in which politics really is not their main priority?? Rather instead the ideal that they are working for the goals of Pearse and Collins and a United Ireland??

    Compare this with Unionist parties where people are more seen to be “in the business” of politics where you either enjoy the idea of public government or you don’t. Where less people are attracted to join up and leads to a smaller employment pool??

  • J Kelly

    BP i accept that there is a degree of trust and confidentiality thats vital in these posts but they could be advertised within the party. SF advertise within the party for these posts.

  • Bigger Picture


    Yes and point taken. Instead of repeating myself see point 2 that i made in post 15. I have more important things to worry about tonight, like getting nicely slossed before the NI game comes on.

  • The Sinn Fein numbers are so low because they are smarter than the average bear. Their MP’s and MLA’s don’t hire their own family, they employ each others family. Where do the shinners actually advertise because hand on heart I’ve never saw them advertise a job while I also know for a fact the Alliance has recently advertised and filled several positions publically.

  • lib2016

    “…they employ each others family…”

    I’m not impugning your honesty but could you tell us where we could get more evidence? Preferably evidence of a pattern of such behaviour.