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Almost £6k in pension contributions paid for former MLA Caitríona Ruane while still speaker

Almost £6,000 in pension contributions was paid by the assembly in the period from when Caitríona Ruane stepped down as an MLA until her resignation as principal deputy speaker. Picture by Mal McCann

ALMOST £6,000 in pension contributions was paid out by the assembly for Caitríona Ruane in the period from when she stepped down as an MLA until she resigned as principal deputy speaker.

There was criticism after it emerged that Ms Ruane, who did not stand for re-election in March, was still being paid for her speaker's role even though Stormont has not been functioning since January.

The former Sinn Féin education minister resigned from her £55,000-a-year post as principal deputy speaker last month, saying she never anticipated that the election of new speakers would take so long.

She also said her earnings had been donated to a range of charities.

Sinn Féin has said it had received no donations from Ms Ruane and "any arrangements she may have come to with the assembly were her own affair",

In response to a written question by the TUV's Jim Allister about pension contributions for Ms Ruane, the Assembly Commission said: "The contribution made by the commission in respect of the principal deputy speaker was £5,851.93 from the date of ceasing to be a member until the date of resignation."

Just over £5,000 was also paid in national insurance contributions for the former South Down MLA in the same period.

The commission also confirmed that a resettlement payment - offered to all departing MLAs - was paid to Ms Ruane in June, believed to be worth £24,500.

Last month it also emerged that DUP speaker Robin Newton and SDLP deputy speaker Patsy McGlone remain in post, receiving wages of £87,000 and £55,000 respectively. Both were re-elected as MLAs in March.

The UUP's Danny Kennedy, who was not re-elected, resigned as deputy speaker in June.

Pension contributions for assembly members are paid at a rate of 14.4% of pay before deductions for tax.

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