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Concerns over DUP adviser role as company director

John Manley Political Correspondent j.manley@irishnews.com

TUV leader Jim Allister has raised concerns after it emerged that a special adviser to First Minister Peter Robinson did not declare her role in a company set up by two of the DUP leader's party colleagues.

The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) has said Emma Pengelly -- nee Little -- was not required to declare her directorship of Qubric, a company established by two years ago by MPs Jeffrey Donaldson and Ian Paisley jnr along with British army officer Kingsley Donaldson.

It was set up to give peace-building advice to overseas governments and organisations.

In 2012 Mr Donaldson described Qubric as a "social company" and said any profit would go towards "supporting projects in working-class Protestant areas".

However, it has emerged that the company has yet to conduct any business and that three of the four founding directors -- including the two DUP MPs -- have resigned from its board.

Mrs Pengelly (35), who is a barrister by profession and married to Department of Health permanent secretary Richard Pengelly (47), remains Qubric's sole director.

Mr Donaldson told The Irish News the company has been set up to explore the potential for sharing peace-building experience.

"I am involved in the Causeway Institute, which shares the Northern Ireland experience of peace-building, and we'd had some interest from locations where the trust doesn't operate," he said.

The Lagan Valley MP said the venture "never took off" and that the company is dormant.

Mr Donaldson, who sits on the Causeway Trust advisory board, resigned from the Qubric board just over a year after the company was formed, while the two DUP MPs quit in June this year.

It has now emerged that in July last year TUV leader Mr Allister, pictured, asked OFMDFM a 'priority' question about whether Mrs Pengelly had declared her Qubric directorship as an interest.

As a priority question it was supposed to be answered within two days.

However, OFMDFM only responded 14 months later.

It said Mrs Pengelly did not declare her interest but was not required to do so as "no conflict arises".

Mr Allister said OFMDFM's responsibility for community relations and victims issues meant it was "difficult to understand" how no conflict of interest arises.

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