Local MLAs notch up £1.2m expenses bill

Danny Kinahan MLA
Danny Kinahan MLA

NORTH Belfast, South Antrim and East Antrim MLAs claimed almost £1.2million in expenses over the past year.

The expenses for the 18 representatives cover the period from April 2011 until March 2012.

The figures, published by the Northern Ireland Assembly, take into account office costs, travel subsistence and salaries of office workers. For the period each MLA could claim up to £75,857 for the running of their offices and other related expenses such as travel costs.

Of the £1,194,609.75 claimed by local representatives the Ulster Unionist Party’s (UUP)Danny Kinahan claimed the most.

He claimed for £80,340.64 during 2011-12 which was just over £2,300 more than the next highest, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MLA Paul Girvan who claimed £77,975.39.

Danny said: “I believe this represents good value for money. I run two offices and a mobile unit plus I am the only Ulster Unionist for the whole of South Antrim and try to get around everyone. There is nothing hidden, everything is claimed in line with the guidelines and includes rent, salaries and mileage costs.

“That is me working at full-tilt with a really good team behind me because you do need office staff and researchers to provide a good service. If you compare that to the DUP in South Antrim, they have three offices, which is three times £75,000 and an MP. I believe I offer constituents good value for money.”

The lowest claim of local Assembly members was South Antrim representative Pam Brown who claimed £35,836.64.

Also included in the list, which is available on the Northern Ireland Assembly website, were representatives who sat in the previous parliamentary term and either stood down or were not returned in last year’s election.

Locally Fred Cobain, Ken Robinson, Sean Neeson and Thomas Burns claimed a total of £189,169.53 for costs associated with winding up their offices.