Gross dereliction of duty – Assembly relied on self-certification by Sinn Fein over £700,000 research bill

Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:-

“In further pursuing the issue of how £700,000 of public money came to be paid from Assembly expenses to Sinn Fein front organisation, ‘Research Services Ireland’, I am appalled to discover no checks were carried out by the Assembly as to whether any research was provided and, instead, the Assembly Commission relied on a self-serving process of self-certification by Sinn Fein MLAs.

“A mere assertion by the MLAs that the research was delivered was all it took to release £700,000 of public money into their coffers. That is the clear and unacceptable import of the latest answer below.

“I asked how the Commission satisfied itself that bona fide research had been obtained? The answer indicates the bar could not have been lower – mere signed assertion by the claiming MLAs was enough. This was an incredibly slack approach, waiting for rip off which resulted. No wonder Stormont is held in such contempt by so many.”

Q: To ask the Assembly Commission , pursuant to AQW 53526/11-16, to explain the basis upon which the £700,000 expenditure was admissible, detailing the bona fide research which was found to have been obtained and by whom. A: The Assembly Commission is responsible for the administration of the system of financial support for Members and in this role, it establishes procedures and controls to assess the admissibility of claims against the requirements of any Determination formerly issued by the Assembly Commission and, since 2012, by the Independent Financial Review Panel. This system of procedures and controls includes certification of all claims by all Members that any services provided to a Member and the costs subsequently claimed from Office Costs Expenditure, has been delivered. The research material obtained is a matter for each Member.

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