North Antrim MLA Jim Allister has revealed that the public has paid out over £1,000 to provide MLAs with mints - prompting some wags to ask “do they think we are minted?”
The TUV MLA revealed that, over the last five years, the cost of providing free sweets in the debating chamber amounts to £1,386.55 - that’s 2,530 rolls of mints.
“Extra strong” in his condemnation, Mr Allister said: “Stormont MLAs are chewing more publicly funded mints than ever before.
“Demand for the free mints has risen by over 50% in the past year, taking the cost to the public purse, since the practice began, to £1386.55.
“Uniquely among legislatures, the Stormont Assembly provides free mints at the Speaker’s table to sustain our MLAs.
“Though MLAs are on £48,000 per annum and ministers on over £80,000 per annum, it is clearly too much to expect them to buy their own mints, so the taxpayer provides them instead! Indeed some MLAs sometimes seem more interested in the mints than in the proceedings.
“One has even been observed entering the chamber specifically to load up on mints and then immediately leaving without even sitting down. Little wonder Stormont is held in contempt by so many,” he added.
The practice of providing free mints at the Speaker’s Table began in April 2009 and in that first year, our MLAs scoffed a total of 524 rolls of mints - costing £288.20. The following year the demand dropped to 445 packs of mints and the cost fell to £244.75.
In 2011/12 the munching continued with 493 packs of sweets at a cost of £271.15.
There was another drop in demand in 2012/13 when the MLAs omly managed 418 packets of mints between them at a cost of £224.95.
However, the cost for last year shows that the fresh-breathed representatives’ jaws went into overdrive with a 50% jump in demand for 650 packets of mints - costing £357.50.