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£30,000 a month spent on Assembly staff being sent on secondment in the absence of power-sharing

Assembly staff have been seconded to work for other parliaments since October last year. Picture by Paul Faith/PA Wire
John Monaghan

THE redeployment of Assembly staff to work in other legislatures in the absence of power-sharing at Stormont is costing more than £30,000 a month.

It was revealed earlier this month that the equivalent of 11 full-time employees have been seconded to work for the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the Scottish Parliament and the Houses of the Oireachtas in Dublin.

The north has been without a functioning devolved government for more than a year and while there are no formal arrangements in place, the Assembly has said it has enabled the secondments "to seek to maintain the skills and experience of its staff".

The latest figures, released in response to an Assembly question by TUV leader and North Antrim MLA Jim Allister, show that a total of £158,004 has been spent on affected staff since October last year.

It means that in the five months up to March an average of just over £30,000 a month was spent on the redeployments.

Almost half the total amount, £70,000, has been spent on employees working for the House of Commons, with just under £58,000 on staff carrying out duties for the Scottish Parliament.

Staff working for the House of Lords and Houses of the Oireachtas in Dublin have cost around £15,000 in each case.

The Assembly Commission, which oversees the administrative running of Stormont, has said it is continuing to pay the salaries of the staff involved.

The Commission has said that the "majority of the work" is carried out in Parliament Buildings at Stormont, and that the redeployed staff can be recalled "immediately" if devolution returns.

In response to the latest Assembly question, a Commission spokesperson said: "The time that staff members work for an entity outside the jurisdiction of Northern Ireland can vary from month to month and is generally time bound.

"All travel and accommodation costs are to be met directly by the host organisation. The Assembly has not, therefore, paid any travel or other expenses to these staff in relation to their redeployments to other public bodies."

Mr Allister said that people were "entitled to ask" why the salaries of redeployed staff are continuing to "be paid from the block grant" and added that money should not be spent to "aid the running of a non-UK administration".

Last month The Irish News revealed that more than 160 staff at Stormont have been temporarily moved to other roles.

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