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Ian Paisley: Second board accused during dinner

Ian Paisley: Second board accused during dinner

Ian PaisleyImage copyright
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Ian Paisley said that a complaint was filed by "political rivals"

A second council has been accused of using taxpayers' money to sponsor a table at an electoral constituency for a member of parliament.

Causeway Coast and Glens Council paid £ 1,500 for the table during last September's event, organized by Ian Paisley of the DUP.

It had previously been revealed that Mid and East Antrim Borough Council had sponsored another table for the same sum.

That is now being treated as a "gift" to the North Antrim MP by the Election Commission.

The municipality of Causeway Coast and Glens said the payment fell within its guidelines.

  • Research into Paisley event money
  • Inspectorate investigates DUP event money

Councils are not considered "authorized donors" and money from such agencies must be returned.

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Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson said that serious questions must be answered.

In a letter to Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council said that the money was paid directly to the Tullyglass Hotel, which organized the dinner.

But Mr. Dickson said that the payment raises serious questions.

"This is public money and we are now talking about two councils that spend more than £ 3,000 in taxpayers' money on something that was billed – and that it's in the local newspapers everywhere – as a DUP fundraising event," said he.

"A dinner that was held in Ballymena by Ian Paisley MP and was indeed bragged about as a collection action by some of his councilors."

The Alliance MLA said he was also worried about the decision to sponsor a table.

"This was not a decision of city councilors, this seems to have been taken entirely by municipal officials on the basis of a letter they received from an organization that, according to Mid and East Antrim, does not even exist," he said.

Extended audit

In the letter from the BBC, the Council said that the "spending level for participation" during dinner "did not require a councilor agreement in accordance with the procurement policy of the board and specifically the delegated responsibility for officers".

It added: "you will therefore not find a specific Council minute dealing with this issue".

In a further statement, it said the keynote speaker at the event was MP Michael Gove and that topics covered Brexit, passenger air fares and their impact on tourism and business travel and the effect of the public sector include spending cuts on nationwide services.

"The Council agreed to attend the event and invite guests who would benefit from both the topic and the potential networking opportunities," he said.

"These guests included representatives of our catering, food distribution and production, agricultural and leisure industries, with an emphasis on the rural aspects of the town."

The office of the Northern Irish accountant has confirmed that it has investigated the payment within the framework of a wider audit of the Causeway Coast and Glens Council and will make recommendations in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, the electoral commission has said that it is aware of the payment by the council, but can not make any further comments, since its investigation is under way.

In a statement, Mr Paisley said that he was "pleased to wait for the outcome of the committee's investigation", which he added "after political rivals filed a complaint".

He said his annual community and business engagement dinner in Ballymena was very successful and was enjoyed by everyone who attended & # 39 ;.