“This acquisition is a long-term commitment by the DUP to the constituency..”

Expect more criticism of “lazy journalists”.. But the Assembly are reportedly set to release figures which indicate that, according to the NewsLetter report, the DUP’s Ian Paisley, Snr and Jnr, intend to jointly claim £62,500 a year from public funds for the rental costs of their constituency offices at 9-11 Church Street, Ballymena. But, whilst the rental costs may be the subject of some debate, the background to the buying, and renting, of the property reveals the involvement of a familiar name.. less than two months before another DUP Minister was “of a mind to approve” that same developer’s plans for a Causeway Centre. More below the fold.Some of the detail from, firstly, the NewsLetter report

Sarcon 250 is understood to be a “shelf company” which has been listed with Companies House for some time. A shelf company is essentially created in name and then held (on the shelf) for later use, as and when needed.

It means a company is fully formed, with nominal shareholders, and available instantly for operation. There are a series of Sarcon companies operating or which have been in operation and are now closed down, each with a different number.

Sarcon (No. 250) Limited appears to have become operational in May 2007, with the property at Church Street bought in July 2007. [added emphasis]

And from David Gordon’s report in the Belfast Telegraph

The Church Street building became the new north Antrim office of Mr Paisley Jnr last summer.

It is owned by a company called Sarcon (no 250). Its official returns to Government’s Companies Registry record that Mr Sweeney was appointed a director of the firm in May last year. [added emphasis]

They further state that Sarcon (no 250) obtained a mortgage from the Bank of Ireland for 9-11 Church Street, Ballymena in July 2007.

Whilst, also from the NewsLetter report

The North Antrim MLA stated: “I can confirm that a company called Sarcon 250 owns the DUP offices at 9-11 Church Street and has done so since the summer of 2007.

“During the run-up to the purchase, for a period of weeks, Mr Seymour Sweeney, as a member of the DUP, gave advice on the purchase of the office and became a director of the company to ensure the purchase could be completed. [added emphasis]

“He subsequently resigned before any rent was due, under the lease, in favour of a new director, as it was never intended that he would have any further role or be in receipt of any benefit.

“The rent paid for the property reflects the then current market value on the property.”

Mr Paisley added that he took expert advice from a “professional agent” in relation to the level of rent.

He concluded: “This acquisition is a long-term commitment by the DUP to the constituency. The rent has been validated by the Assembly authorities.” [added emphasis]

And, again from David Gordon’s report

The current online returns for Sarcon (no 250) at the Government’s Companies Registry do not include any reference to Mr Sweeney’s resignation. [added emphasis]

Last night’s statement by the MLA also referred to the Church Street office as part of the DUP’s “long-term commitment” to north Antrim, indicating that it is party-owned.

And, given those details, a couple of questions come to mind immediately – Who is paying off the mortgage? And who is receiving the rent?

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  • steve48

    a significant number of the sarcon companies are listed at the address of Carson Mcdowell who happen to be Seymours solicitors. I wonder how many of the companies have seymour as a director.

    Jnr hinted that the party owned the premises as part of its long term commitment. who replaced seymour as director as is the building listed with the electoral commission as being dup owned.

    If not is the dup using front companies to hide assets from the electoral commission?

  • noel adams

    Must be a conflict of interest for SS when on the board was he representing the co. as a director or the DUP.

  • “Ian Paisley Jnr claims £31,250 a year for Ballymena and an additional £2,100 for a Bushmills office, making his individual claim £33,350.”

    Is he or should he be paying rates on the Bushmills office?

  • suchard

    I think that I might call upon Carson McDowell and ask to inspect the current share registers.Remember all of you Lads and Lasses you could all do likewise.You will find them at Murray House, Murray St. Belfast 1. Tel no. 028 90244951. Now remember the more curious inspectors the merrier. This is the way to cleanse The Augean Stables we must use every weapon in our armoury. Now remember NO RED BERETS and leave your dog collars and rubber masks at home; we must all behave with decorum however the wearing of RED SOCKS is permitted.

  • joeCanuck

    Let’s work our way through just part of this using Junior’s reported statements only.

    The North Antrim MLA stated: “I can confirm that a company called Sarcon 250 owns the DUP offices at 9-11 Church Street and has done so since the summer of 2007.

    “During the run-up to the purchase, for a period of weeks, Mr Seymour Sweeney, as a member of the DUP, gave advice on the purchase of the office and became a director of the company to ensure the purchase could be completed.

    He concluded: ”This acquisition is a long-term commitment by the DUP to the constituency.

    Last night’s statement by the MLA also referred to the Church Street office as part of the DUP’s “long-term commitment” to north Antrim, indicating that it is party-owned.

    These 4 statements, taken together, can only mean that either the DUP owns the Sarcon company or else the Sarcon company owns the DUP.
    Statement 1. says that Sarcon owns the building and statement 4. says that the party owns the building.
    Wonder which it is.

  • joeCanuck

    Not to mention; do the other party officers know that they own or are owned by this shell game shelf company?

  • Observer

    We can all waffle around this latest revelation and speculate as much as we want. Lets not forget that public perception is as important as reality in the conduct of those involved in public life. This whole episode might be a piece of creative accountancy that is as white as the driven snow but as sure as heck the public perception must be that there is a huge whiff of suspect behaviour around. In any country, except Russia before the end of the cold war, there would be someone hanging out to dry for all the crap hitting the DUP fan. Does nobody in the party see what is happening? Does nobody really care? Is the wages being paid to the elected and unelected leckeys enough to buy their turning a blind eye? Continued silence will bring collective responsibility. What happened in Dromore might be a blip in the Doc’s eye but if any more damaging revelations come out, and I think there is much still to be drip fed to us, then the electoral blip of Dromore will become an electoral night of the long knives!

  • joeCanuck

    Yes; politicians in any democratic country should always keep the story of Nixon in mind. It wasn’t the relatively minor break-in that did him in, it was the denial and cover-up.
    Junior has to be treated like a cancer. Cut it all out and the sooner the better.
    The days when a stern look even from Papa could end your political career are long gone. The second tier needs to act, collectively if need be.

  • Joker

    I have a shed would jur like to rent it we could split the profit? I would what he will do next? At least we know now the insider the UUP have within the DUP jur only he hasn’t figured it out yet

  • Alex S

    “If not is the dup using front companies to hide assets from the electoral commission?”

    Posted by steve48 on Feb 16, 2008 @ 04:54 PM

    Is this type of thing not against the law?

  • suchard

    Of course it is Alex but all our political parties could not care less about that. There is one lot that sold a tranche of shares against its own rules and abused anybody who objected to this course of action.Even the local plod nodded it through and he’s not the worst critter amongst them. Same bunch higher up the food chain got a really big Grocery voucher from the then biggest private ranch owner in South America around £250,000. they say where has that gone the late donor’s family are involved in the current elections in Pakistan, I believe this problem is just not here my friend. Thers’s Generals,Police Chiefs and a whole lot of others creaming it off in these other banana republics in fact EBAGUM had a President called Canaan Banana.Tell you once a young impressionable politician falls for the gravy train;we have to send for Commander Knacker from Scotland Yard and things are getting that bad in Westminster he has,it is rumoured set up a cop shop in Downing St. Tell you officer it,s Blair versus Blair there.

  • URQUHART

    What’s very strange is the fact that this drip feed of info on PJ keeps being fed, but no one seems willing to really finish him off.

    Which they could if they wanted.

  • suchard

    Geoffrey Donaldson says he knows where the UUP skeletons are buried then why does he not tell us all about them. All we want is transparency everywhere then we might trust our politicians. The new Colin Bateman book ” I Predict a Riot” should be compulsory reading for all our elected representatives.Boom Boom make sure you get Miss Black a copy.

  • lib2016

    We live in a country where North and South for decades anytime you walked into a bank with a lump sum their first move was to advise putting it off-shore. This is business, the DUP have always had backing from the local Chambers of Commerce and strong farmers for whom this is the breathe of life and they’ll just laugh at the hypocrisy on display here.

    Before that Brookeborough for twenty years was the biggest smuggler on the border with the full encouragement of HM’s Government who knew that the RUC were escorting lorryloads of brandy and cigars for Number 10 all through the war.

  • “a significant number of the sarcon companies are listed at the address of Carson McDowell who happen to be Seymours solicitors.”

    Steve, you might note that SARCON is an anagram of CARSON.

    Documentation shows that Sarcon (No 250) Limited was registered on 14 March 2007 and the two directors were on the Carson McDowell staff. The two directors resigned on 30 May 2007 and Seymour Henry Sweeney immediately took their place. I can find no resignation document for SHS; there are no director changes lodged after 1 June 2007 but other documents were lodged up to 28 August 2007.

    The Sarcon name also appears in the legal dispute between Sweeney and the other members of the consortium linked to the 96 acre site at Ballee (#8 – 2 links to NI Courts reports):

    “the Company” Sarcon (No [ ] ) Limited

    Paisley jnr referred to six businessmen in December 2007 but there were only five named people/companies in “the Company” at the time of the legal dispute in 2006, B J Eastwood having dropped out of the process earlier. By about this type last year it would appear that the number of businessmen had dropped down to one.

    IMO it’s rather curious that a document apparently put together by such a supposedly prestigious legal company should have been accepted by one judge but failed on appeal. It poses the question, “How watertight is the documentation for Sarcon (No 250) Limited?” Also, what about any contractural obligations involving the Department of Social Development and the pre-owners of the Ballee lands? Should they be taking independent legal advice?

  • steve48

    Which raises more questions

    when did SHS resign from Sarcon and who took his place?

    Was the company bought over since it presumably now has a significant mortgage and income?

    Presumably the bank was willing to give the company an mortgage based on SHS being sole? director has the bank accepted the significant change in status?

  • joeCanuck

    Who owns the property?
    As I pointed out previously, Junior in one breath says SARCON owns it; a little while later he says that it is a long-term investment by the DUP and that “the party” owns it.Which is it? And who collects the extremely generous rent?

    Anyone know what a typical rent for a business premises, a shop say, is in Ballymena?

  • Steve, the company has not been wound up and there’s no mention of a change of ownership/directors; the status is current.

  • Inspector Clouseau

    Non.
    The DUP wouldn’t be in the least concerned that a SF P&J;Minister might instruct the CC to beef up the PSNI’s white collar crime department.

  • Joe, the mortgages were signed by SHS and dated the 20 August 2007. The charge date is 31 July 2007.

  • Tomthumbuk

    It has interesting parallels with the story recently of the Westminster M.Ps Nicholas Winterton and his wife Ann.

    They were claiming expenses for a London residence which they had paid off and subsequently put in to a trust. They were then able to continue to claim expenses for it.

    (O.K. I know it’s a good idea but I wouldn’t think about it,if I were you, Ian!)

  • rural dweller

    At least junior is paying the rent to someone other than himself unlike Billy Armstrong of the UUP who pocketed between £60-£100k thanks to his wife’s ownership of the portaloo which he uses as an office.

  • Tomthumbuk

    I don’t think it’s actually Junior who’s paying the rent.

    I’m not aware,as yet, who we’re paying the rent to. As we speak Seymour seems to be the director of the company. We’ll find out pretty soon.

    Bye the way I’ve heard Billy Armstrong is now co-writing a book with Alan Titchmarsh called

    “How to maximise your income from your vegetable plot”.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Legally Mr Sweeney is still a director of Sarcon 250 as that is what is in the company’s office files. It may be possible the the remaining director(s)appointed on his departure (if it occured) and the secretary have been negligent in sending in the appropriate forms to the Company’s office. Would however a firm of solicitors permit a company (the secretary of Sarcon 250) SARCON COMPLIANCE LIMITED which appears to be under their control and which is also secretary to 87 other companies (some involving Mr Sweeney) to be in default in such a way – all very strange.

    The rent for the property in Church Street may not be far away from market value certainly not in the way some have suggested. Its location is not top prime but neither is it in a back street, in the Fair Hill centre (top prime)relatively small shops in comparison would fetch much more.

    It is just another very messy tranactions which leaves a feeling that all is not transparent and the connection between the Paisleys and Mr Sweeny is more that anyone is saying e.g. Me Sweeney says he never gave any funds to the party, but he seems to have devoted a lot of time to the Sarcon transaction which would have a considerable monetary value had he charged for it……just more questions than answers.

  • Paisleys facing calls for office rent probe

    “First Minister Ian Paisley and his junior minister son are today facing calls for an investigation into their use of taxpayers’ money to rent a constituency office.
    Saturday’s News Letter revealed that they are making hefty Assembly expenses claims for the premises in Ballymena – and that developer Seymour Sweeney had a role in the purchase of the building.

    Now it has emerged that the Stormont allowance they receive is paid to a company whose sole director is Mr Paisley Jnr’s father-in-law, Jim Curry.

    And that the property was initially bought only with assistance of Mr Sweeney, whose links to the Paisleys are under intense scrutiny after they lobbied for him to build the Giant’s Causeway visitors’ centre.”