Belfast Telegraph

Friday 27 March 2015

DUP councillor defiant over his poor attendance

A Co Antrim councillor is unrepentant over his repeated failure to attend council meetings — while receiving his £9,500-a-year allowance.

The DUP last weekend called for action over a North Down UUP councillor who had turned up for 11 meetings in 10 months.

But Moyle DUP councillor Davy McAllister — a convicted benefit fraudster and a party advice centre employee — has a much lower attendance tally.

In the financial year 2008/09 he is recorded as having being present at just four council meetings. His apologies for not being present were conveyed to 23 other meetings during this period.

Asked if he accepted these attendance figures — taken from the Moyle Council website — Mr McAllister yesterday said: “I’m sure that’s likely right. You would know better than me.”

The councillor added: “I don’t think council work revolves around a meeting, I think it’s doing work for people on the ground that’s important.”

Mr McAllister said he worked full-time in the DUP advice centre in Bushmills. He also accused the Belfast Telegraph of never publishing “anything positive” about him.

The councillor was convicted of benefit fraud in 2006 and ordered to repay £17,744 to the Social Security Agency. He has maintained his innocence and stated that the prosecution related to remuneration he received as a councillor.

In 2008 he was fined £3,000 for illegal in-filling at a building site in Bushmills.

Councillors across Northern Ireland were paid £9,499 for 2008/09. Mr McAllister yesterday said this was taxed. “We pay our telephone expenses out of that, as well as other expenses,” he added.

North Down UUP councillor Diana Peacocke has also been criticised for her attendance record.

It was reported by Sunday Life that she had put in an appearance at just 11 council meetings in the past 10 months — a fraction of that attended by most colleagues. Ms Peacocke has blamed non-appearances on ill-health, but has been photographed at social functions during this period. Her Ulster Unionist councillors in North Down have asked party officers to consider disciplinary action.

The DUP hit out on the issue, with North Down councillor and MLA Alex Easton saying: “You get elected to do a job and I bust a gut to do mine.”

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