Northern Ireland news

Four of DUP's 10 MPs have relatives on payroll

Fiona Paisley works for her husband Ian as a part-time administrative assistant

FOUR of the DUP's 10 MPs have family members working for them at the taxpayers' expense.

Employing relatives was banned for new MPs last year, with Westminster's standards watchdog saying it was "out of step" with 21st century employment practices.

Earlier this week, The Irish News reported that 10 DUP MLAs employ relatives – twice the number Stormont's other parties have on their payroll combined.

According to Westminster's register of interests, the DUP MPs who have relatives working for them are Gregory Campbell, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, Gavin Robinson and Ian Paisley.

Sir Jeffrey employs his wife Eleanor Donaldson as a secretary, while Mr Campbell's wife Frances works in a similar role part-time.

Mr Paisley employs his wife Fiona as a part-time administrative assistant, while Mr Robinson's father John works as his part-time office manager.

Those first elected to Westminster in the 2017 general election are not permitted to employ relatives but existing MPs are allowed to have a family member on the payroll.

Among those DUP assembly members who have relatives working for them is Trevor Clarke, whose wife Linda is employed as the South Antrim representative's office administrator.

However, Mr Clarke has failed to record his wife's employment on the assembly's register of interests.

Mr Clarke lost his Stormont seat in the March 2017 election but was co-opted the following June after his colleague Paul Girvan won the South Antrim Westminster seat.

A DUP spokesman said the South Antrim MLA's failure to register his wife's employment was an "oversight" which would soon be rectified.

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