Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland Assembly Members suck their way through £1,386 of mints in five years

By Adrian Rutherford

It's costing a mint to keep our MLAs sweet.

That's because Assembly Members are chewing their way through more of the publicly-funded snacks than ever before.

Demand for the free sweets has risen by more than 50% in the past year, according to new figures released by Stormont.

In the last 12 months, £357 was spent providing 650 rolls of mints.

That works out at an average of six rolls for each of the 108 Members.

However, there are persistent allegations that some MLAs are consuming more than their fair share of the treats.

The figures were released in response to an Assembly question from TUV leader Jim Allister.

Mr Allister said he believed the practice demeaned the Assembly.

"Uniquely among legislatures, the Stormont Assembly provides free mints at the Speaker's table to sustain our MLAs," he said.

"Though MLAs are on £48,000pa and ministers on over £80,000pa, 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."

According to details released by the Assembly Commission, MLAs have chewed through 2,530 rolls of mints since 2009 – at a cost of £1,386.

The cost has risen since 2009/10, when £288 was spent on mints.

The following year almost £245 was spent, the total for 2011/12 was £271 while in 2012/13 the cost was £225.

However, the costs were considerably higher in the last year, totalling £357.

Mr Allister has regularly investigated the cost of providing free mints to MLAs.

Earlier this year the issue was raised on the floor of the chamber, with concerns raised about the number which DUP member William Humphrey was getting through.

Mr Allister claimed to have spotted the North Belfast MLA coming into the chamber "loading up" with the mints and leaving again.

Mr Humphrey denied this, saying at the time: "I only took a single mint."

Factfile

2009/10: 524 rolls, £288.20

2010/11: 445 rolls, £244.75

2011/12: 493 rolls, £271.15

2012/13: 418 rolls, £224.95

2013/14: 650 rolls, £357.50

Total: 2,530 rolls, £1,386.55

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph