I suppose taking out private insurance is one way of asserting parliament privilege. The new arrangments were put in place after two Sinn Fein MLAs found themselves in a case that was to cost them and/or their party somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 million pounds.
The Irish News reports on a case before the High Court in which DUP MLA Paul Given and UTV settled with Nuala O’Loan for a substantial figure…
TAXPAYERS cover all 108 MLAs against libel costs – including an estimated £50,000 damages bill incurred by the DUP’s Paul Givan yesterday.
The Irish News has learned that Mr Givan will not have to pay anything in the libel case brought by former police ombudsman Nuala O’Loan because insurance is provided at the public’s expense.
The question is who is prepared to cover all 108 MLAs and how much are the premiums? And, when MLA’s already have parliamentary previlege and qualified privilege, why does the taxpayer have to fork out for this kind of extra protection?
Isn’t it just a little bit scary we now have a class of citizen that’s doubly protected from the same rigours of the law you and I might be subject to (I can think of more than one Northern Irish politician that’s none to slow to pull the legal trigger when the occasion arises)?
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty