“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?