DUP Assembly Member for Strangford Simon Hamilton has questioned why Jim Allister appears so reluctant to answer simple questions concerning his office expenses and allowances. The Strangford MLA compared Mr. Allister’s demands for openness and transparency with his refusal to answer the question put to him by Mr. Hamilton over a week ago. Commenting, Simon Hamilton said,
“It seems truly strange that Mr. Allister is so unwilling to answer the list of questions that I have posed to him. They are perfectly legitimate questions and they will not go away. Mr. Allister of course has crafted for himself a public image as the guardian of transparency and openness in government. Indeed when Mr. Allister was firing Freedom of Information requests and questions at other people he boldly declared:
“It will be no answer to try and divert attention by attacking me the messenger, let’s have utter transparency, honesty and candour.” (Source: Jim Allister’s Website. 15 January 2008)
With such a strong track-record in the pursuit of transparency, honesty and candour it seems strange that my posing of simple questions to Mr. Allister should have been described as mud-slinging. It is no answer for Mr. Allister to attack the messenger, let’s have utter transparency, honesty and candour from him. Only just over a fortnight ago did Mr. Allister admit that his family owns his constituency office, now he must answer some further questions about where his expenses are being allocated. I will continue posing these questions to him until they are answered in a full, open and transparent way.
1. How much did Mr. Allister claim for travel expenses from the European Parliament since his election?
2. How much is each individual employee/service provider in his office paid from European funds?
3. Does Mr. Allister pay European funds to any family members? If so, what for?
4. Who administers his website? How much are they being paid for that?
5. How many trips has Mr. Allister taken since election to the European Parliament?
6. What was the total cost Mr. Allister claimed back from the European Parliament for travel expenses?
7. Have European Funds ever been used to pay office rent to the owner/owners of his office at any time?
These are questions that every Assembly Member, Member of Parliament and Councillor in Northern Ireland has to answer. Let’s see if Mr. Allister applies the same standards of openness and transparency to himself as he does to others.
His spurious defence that he has answered questions from legitimate watch-dogs seems strange coming from a man who has repeatedly used the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act to ask questions of others. Full answers to the above list of questions are not provided on Jim Allister’s website. The public have a right to know what Mr. Allister is doing with public funds. Let’s see a full disclosure in answer to all of these questions in the interests of fairness and transparency, which of course Mr. Allister believes in strongly. Only transparency, honesty and candour will suffice.”

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