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Health minister is being paid for "hours" he works

DUP health minister Simon Hamilton (left) pictured with party leader Peter Robinson has been castigated for resigning and being reappointed four times in the last month while waiting lists increase to record levels 
SeanĂ­n Graham

HEALTH minister Simon Hamilton is being paid for the "hours" he has worked since his resignation four weeks ago - but his party insists he won’t "benefit financially” from it.

The Assembly confirmed yesterday that DUP ministers who stood down over the Kevin McGuigan murder, but who have been renominated in recent weeks, "are being paid for the days they are in post".

Mr Hamilton insisted in a BBC interview last month that he will not be collecting a salary for the brief periods he is reappointed as health minister as part of a strategy to keep republicans and nationalists away from DUP portfolios.

The 38-year-old Strangford Assembly member, who receives an £86,000 annual salary, has been under intense pressure to return to his high-profile job at a time of spiralling waiting lists - with delays among the worst in Europe.

He has returned to his post on just three occasions for “several hours” since his first resignation on September 10, according to The Department of Health. He has not completed a full day at his desk in Castle buildings in the last four weeks.

When asked on September 17 if he was to take a wage following his time worked as health minister the previous day, he said: “No, I don’t expect to get paid for my work yesterday”.

The Assembly press office was unable to provide the total amount Mr Hamilton has received to date but it is estimated that pay for a ministerial day in office equates to around £150.

An Assembly spokeswoman said: "A ministerial salary is payable for each day an individual holds office. A ministerial salary ceases to be payable the day after the effective date of resignation.

This applies to all ministers. A Northern Ireland executive minister is currently paid an annual salary of £86k. This can be broken down as £48k (Assembly salary) and £38k (ministerial salary)."

When pressed as to whether the four DUP ministers who have resigned and then renominated are currently being paid, the spokeswoman added: “… yes, ministers are being paid for the days they are in post.”

The Irish News asked the DUP last night to explain why Mr Hamilton had insisted that he is not being paid – when the Assembly confirmed he was.

A DUP spokesman said, while processes were not in place to stop payment being made by the Assembly, Mr Hamilton would not “benefit” from it.

"The position remains exactly as it was outlined by the party leader on the day ministerial resignations were announced. They will not benefit financially during this period and will not keep any ministerial salary they might receive," the spokesman added.

Mr Hamilton has been unavailable for interview with The Irish News since he was first appointed in May.

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