TUV questions office expenses abuse

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TUV leader Jim Allister has tabled a number of questions arising from Tuesday’s shocking exposé of the abuse of Assembly office expenses.

He has also tabled a Matter of the Day for Monday in attempt to raise the issue on the floor of the chamber.

Commenting Mr Allister said: “I have requested a Matter of the Day for Monday so that this issue can be discussed at the earliest opportunity and have tabled a number of questions to DFP, the Assembly Commission and the Departments of Culture and Agriculture.

“Public confidence in Stormont was already very low. After Tuesday’s documentary it is at rock bottom. It is obvious to all neutral observers that the expenses system, like so much else in Stormont, is dysfunctional to say the least.

“At a time when the public sector is under such pressure it is particularly galling to witness such abuse of the system.”

Mr Allister’s questions are as follows: For priority written answer within 2 days: To ask DFP will the minister ensure that LPS urgently investigate the rates liability of Sinn Fein offices in Gulladuff, Cookstown and Dunloy, in light of the facts exposed in the BBC Spotlight programme broadcast on 18 November 2014.

To ask Assembly Commission what provisions are in place, where an MP is receiving rental assistance from Westminster for office accommodation, to ensure that an MLA does not receive rental assistance which would produce rental support, when combined with the Westminster payment, above the approved Assembly valuation.

To ask Assembly Commission what action does it intend in light of the alarming revelations in the BBC Spotlight programme of 18 November 2014 on MLAs’ expenses.

To ask DCAL whether any of the following supposed culture societies have received any funding from the department or any of its arms length bodies: South Derry Cultural and Heritage Society, Tyrone Cultural Society and North Antrim Historical Society.

To ask DARD whether any of the following groups have received any rural development or other funding from the department or any of its associated bodies: South Derry Cultural and Heritage Society, Tyrone Cultural Society and North Antrim Historical Society.