Northern Ireland extravagance

February 02, 2011 3:08 PM

Some of Northern Ireland’s Members' of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), their devolved government, are spending taxpayers' money with little restraint. At least one of West Tyrone’s six Assembly members has been claiming for expensive trips throughout Europe that leave taxpayers out of pocket. After an FOI request, it has been discovered that a number of significantly large claims have been forwarded for duties relating to the arts, agricultural and regional development.

Over the last three years, five of the six MLAs between them claimed a sum totalling under £1,500, with one of these representatives not filing any claims within the past three years.  However, the sixth MLA claimed over £4,350. These claims have been for a number of stays within four and five star hotels throughout the UK, Ireland and Spain. Claims have also been made including upgraded flights, first class rail travel and a taxi from Dublin to Wexford which cost £56, when a coach would have cost approximately £12 for exactly the same journey.

These are not the extortionate amounts that taxpayers witnessed when the MPs' expenses scandal unravelled, but they are all the same very worrying. There are 108 MLAs serving in the Assembly. More accountability is needed and MLAs need to understand that taxpayers' money is not there to be exploited.

Lee Canning - Taxpayers Alliance Northern IrelandSome of Northern Ireland’s Members' of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), their devolved government, are spending taxpayers' money with little restraint. At least one of West Tyrone’s six Assembly members has been claiming for expensive trips throughout Europe that leave taxpayers out of pocket. After an FOI request, it has been discovered that a number of significantly large claims have been forwarded for duties relating to the arts, agricultural and regional development.

Over the last three years, five of the six MLAs between them claimed a sum totalling under £1,500, with one of these representatives not filing any claims within the past three years.  However, the sixth MLA claimed over £4,350. These claims have been for a number of stays within four and five star hotels throughout the UK, Ireland and Spain. Claims have also been made including upgraded flights, first class rail travel and a taxi from Dublin to Wexford which cost £56, when a coach would have cost approximately £12 for exactly the same journey.

These are not the extortionate amounts that taxpayers witnessed when the MPs' expenses scandal unravelled, but they are all the same very worrying. There are 108 MLAs serving in the Assembly. More accountability is needed and MLAs need to understand that taxpayers' money is not there to be exploited.

Lee Canning - Taxpayers Alliance Northern Ireland

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