“If I sit in the back office, I’m sitting working for him..”

With the Assembly’s Committee on Standards and Privileges announcing a public consultation of their proposed amendments to the MLAs’ Code of Conduct [pdf file], in the Belfast Telegraph David Gordon has a triptych of updates on previous stories of MLAs and their constituency offices. DUP MLA Ian Paisley Jnr’s part-time [rate-free] office [added new link] is no longer rate-free [Are you there, Nevin? – Ed] while UUP MLA Billy Armstrong’s conveniently situated pre-fab is, likewise, no longer rate-free – both will receive back-dated bills. And the new combined constituency office for DUP MLAs Ian Paisley Snr and Jnr, as well as effectively being bought with public funds, apparently doesn’t have planning permission to be an office.. Is that brand damaged yet?From the first Belfast Telegraph report linked in the post

A DFP spokesman said: “Based on the latest information available and considering that the property is still occupied by the Bushmills Community Group, the District Valuer has concluded that while the original decision to grant exemption was correct, exemption is now no longer appropriate.

“Therefore, the District Valuer issued a Certificate of Revision on May 9, 2008, removing rates exempt status from the occupiers of the property. The effect of this decision has been backdated to April 1, 2007.”

The 1998 application for exemption was made by a body called Bushmills Community Advice Centre.

Moyle DUP councillor Davy McAllister has been involved with this organisation from that period. He is also a member of Mr Paisley Jnr’s Assembly-funded staff.

Mr McAllister yesterday said the advice centre was likely to re-apply for exemption.

“Our committee is not just up to date so we are reforming our committee. We are getting our stuff all put together and we will more than likely reapply,” he said.

A Freedom of Information disclosure issued earlier this year stated that £2,100 is being claimed in rental expenses annually from the Assembly by the DUP for the Bushmills address.

Mr McAllister has stated that the community advice centre is a voluntary operation, and that Mr Paisley Jnr’s part-time advice centre is based in a back-room.

“If I’m sitting in the front office, I’m sitting in a voluntary capacity. “If I sit in the back office, I’m sitting working for him,” he recently said.

, , ,

  • x

    Is this the same David McAllister who was charged with benefit fraud?

    If so, when he is in the front office are we the public paying him or do we only pay him when he’s in the back offce?

  • Councillor McAllister has recently made another appearance before Mae Laud.

    He (the solicitor) pleaded it was obvious from the planning permission that his client would have to build a laneway across marsh land

    I think meadow would be more apt than marsh and a laneway would be unlikely to be more than about five yards wide, not the present width of eighty or so yards – and quite a few feet deep.

  • E eye E eye yo

    What sort of clown is Empey.Once again his deputy whip is caught breaking the law and he still makes no statement as well as keeping Billy on the environment committee.If this is not proof of fraud then I don’t know what is. Come on Reg show some back bone for once and clean your party up

  • “The property is occupied by a community advice centre organisation and is also the location of a part-time constituency office run by DUP MLA Ian Paisley Jnr.

    It was granted exemption from rates for some 10 years on the basis that it was a cross-community, charitable venture.”

    The property currently currently carries the name, “Bushmills Community Advice Centre”. Prior to 1998 it carried the DUP logo and IIRC the opening ceremony was performed by Ian Paisley.

    Has the office ever been been staffed by people other than DUP politicians and their associates? Where do the local DUP councillors do their business when they’re on the premises? Do they use the front office or the back one?

    Is this advice centre registered with any association of advice centres? Is it regulated by any external body?

    To what extent has the centre been acting as a cross-community charitable venture since its inception? What communities have been reflected in the make-up of the management of that centre during the past ten years?

    The application for rates exemption was made in the names of Alan Mullholland, chair of Bushmills Advice Centre Committee. A formal constitution was provided, signed by the chairman and the secretary, D McAllister, DFP stated.

    1997 Results
    UUP gain from Ind U

    First Count:
    Price McConaghy, (Ind U) 484
    David McAllister, (DUP) 278
    William Graham, (UUP) 263
    George Hartin, (DUP) 237
    Robert McIlroy, (UUP) 176
    Raymond Rodgers, (UUP) 126
    Alan Mulholland, (DUP) 93
    Thomas Palmer, (Christian) 22″

    there are no DUP trappings

    I can see no cross-community trappings but some familiar DUP names.

    What is the logic of back-dating the charge one year or altering the status if nothing much has changed since the office carried the DUP logo ten or so years ago?

  • observer

    Could someone tell me if it is legal for a Government Department to pay rental claims for the DUP office in Ballymena if it is operating outside the planning laws? Where is the accountability for ensuring that use of public money does not encourage lawlessness?

  • Observer, it would appear that some abide by planning regulations whilst others ….

  • Click link at post #5 for update, including photos.

  • Drumcairn

    It appears that if you are an MLA then you don’t have to abide the law. Billy Armstrong’s utter contempt for the planners hightlights this. This is the MLA who said he didn’t need planning permission for his porta office (owned by his wife and to whom he pays rent)and is a flagship for the UUP.He also has a sign which he says needs no planning permission but the planners say he does.Is this attitude not contempt for the law and what does Reg think of this.Obviously he must agree otherwise he would have taken steps to censor Billy.The next thing he will do will probably make a member of Billy’s family a party officer.This would be an endorsement of Billy’s law breaking episodes.

  • pia lugum

    Ach – we are all to sore on poor oul Billy! You must remember that the cows are not paying so well these days if one is to believe the UUP’s agricultural spokesmen. It is only fair then that this family should get a leg up from the system.

    I for one would gladly give Billy a donation to help him and his poor long suffering political staffers.

    And sure, does’nt Sir Reg need a country retreat to go with his temporary status as UUP leader – You can’t have him running around looking like a wimp!

    If the unionist party (UUP) cannot do anything for their erstwhile supporters then they need to at least put their own noses firmly in the trough! Somebody needs to ‘come good’!

  • joeCanuck

    It’s too sad for words, Nevin. No longer acceptable to have a go at themmuns so let’s do it to thoseuns instead.

  • Drumcairn

    Pia Lugum
    Couldn’t agree more. Reg has no morals about his MLA breaking the law but can complain about the Paisleys.The hypocrisy of the UUP and especially Reg is now plain for everyone to see.It is interesting that at time of the “credit crunch” that MLA’s give themselves bigger office expenses in other words more pay for the family.