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Anger at severance payments for DUP special advisers

DUP special advisers who lost their jobs are in line for pay outs

DUP special advisers who lost their jobs as a result of the party's resignation-renomination policy are in line for severance payments.

The three so-called spads at the departments of health, enterprise and social development all lost their jobs when Peter Robinson pulled all but one of his ministers out of the executive last month.

Mr Robinson has only stepped aside from his role as first minister, which means the four spads in his office remain in place.

However, since the DUP began its protest action over August's murder of former IRA man Kevin McGuigan, former OFMDFM spad Emma Pengelly has been co-opted to the assembly and has yet to be replaced.

But it has been confirmed to The Irish News that the three spads made redundant on September 11 are in line for tax free golden handshakes of up to £30,000 – or the equivalent of six months pay.

It has also been claimed that if they are re-appointed within six months they get to keep the money which would have been paid to them in salary if they had continued in post and never resigned.

The three departments in question confirmed that under the terms of the spads' civil service contracts they were entitled to severance pay, though they declined to disclose what the figure would be.

TUV leader Jim Allister described the payments as a "preposterous abuse of public money".

"Spads can be out of post, do no work – go on holiday if they like – and still in the end get fully paid for every day they didn't work and weren't a spad – alternatively, if they don't come back they get a months pay, the first £30,000 of which would be tax free," he said.

"So while others struggle to make ends meet, these cosseted spads are in a win-win situation. It could only happen in Stormont."

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