Northern Ireland news

Council reviewing union fees after Ian Paisley lobbying row

How The Irish News revealed that DUP MP Ian Paisley lobbied for councillors to receive a pay rise
Brendan Hughes

A COUNCIL is reviewing whether it should fund councillors' membership of a union body following criticism over meeting Ian Paisley about giving councillors a pay rise.

The Irish News recently revealed the DUP MP lobbied Secretary of State Karen Bradley to give Northern Ireland councillors a 50 per cent wage increase.

He sent Ms Bradley proposals to increase councillors' basic annual wage from £14,485 to £21,727 following a meeting last year with the National Association of Councillors' Northern Ireland branch (NACNI).

The union body has been lobbying for councillors' allowances and benefits to be brought "closer to those received by other public representatives such as MLAs and MPs".

The basic salary for MPs is £77,379. MLAs usually receive £49,500 but this has been cut to £35,888 due to Stormont's collapse.

NACNI is funded by the north's 11 councils and is made up of councillors acting as delegates from each authority. Every councillor is automatically a member, with councils paying their membership fee of £80 per year.

But some councillors have rejected NACNI's lobbying and say councillors should choose whether to pay their membership fee rather than ratepayers footing the bill.

It's understood that at a closed meeting, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has decided to seek clarification from the local government auditor on whether it is appropriate for the council to pay NACNI membership rather than councillors.

Asked yesterday about this, a council spokesman said in a statement: "Council is currently considering options in relation to membership of the National Association of Councillors."

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