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Familiar faces return as Stormont's new Spads

Some of the new political advisors will receive pay packets of more than £78,000

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Stormont's 14 new special advisers have been named

Stormont's 14 new special advisers have been named

Stormont's 14 new special advisers have been named

Stormont's new special advisors (Spads) have been named, with several familiar faces making a return to politics.

Former DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly has been appointed to the Executive Office, alongside ex-Sinn Fein MLA Dara O'Hagan and former Department of Health spad Dr Philip Weir.

The total annual salary for the 14 new Spads is £876,498, down from £1,162,894 in 2017. Their average yearly wage has decreased by 14%.

Finance Minister Conor Murphy has made a number of changes to the special advisers' code of conduct in order to provide a greater degree of scrutiny of their work.

The changes come after the inquiry into the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme heard concerns around how some special advisers behaved during the last Assembly and what influence they wielded.

Other appointments of note include that of Alastair Ross, a former DUP MLA and current Electoral Commissioner, who will be a Spad to Economy Minister Diane Dodds.

The Alliance Party's head of policy, Claire Johnson, will serve under Justice Minister Naomi Long, while DUP councillor Peter Martin will be Education Minister Peter Weir's special advisor.

At 14, the total number of Spads has been reduced from 16 during the last Assembly.

Salaries in three broad pay bands - up to £54,999; £55,000 to £69,000 and £70,000 to £85,000 - have been set for Spads independently by Department of Finance officials, depending of the nature of the work and their experience.

New Executive Office Spads Stephen McGlade, Dara O'Hagan, Philip Weir and Emma Little-Pengelly will receive the biggest pay packets at £78,000.

The Details of the new special advisers are as follows:

  • Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs - Mr Mark Beattie - Pay-band 1
  • Communities - Mr Ronan McGinley - Pay-band 1
  • Economy – Mr Alastair Ross - Pay-band 2 - £65,000
  • Education - Mr Peter Martin - Pay-band 2 - £60,000
  • Finance - Mr Eoin Rooney - Pay-band 1
  • Health - Mr Mark Ovens - Pay-band 2 - £60,000
  • Infrastructure - Ms Tanya McCamphill - Pay-band 1
  • Justice - Ms Claire Johnson - Pay-band 1
  • Executive Office - Mr Stephen McGlade - Pay-band 3 - £78,000
  • Executive Office - Dr Dara O’Hagan - Pay-band 3 - £78,000
  • Executive Office - Mr John Loughran - Pay-band 2 - £67,000
  • Executive Office - Dr Philip Weir - Pay-band 3 - £78,000
  • Executive Office - Ms Emma Little-Pengelly - Pay-band 3 - £78,000
  • Executive Office - Mrs Kim Ashton - Pay-band 1

Belfast Telegraph