Half of Mid-Ulster MLA’s don’t advertise to recruit office staff

HALF of Mid-Ulster’s MLA’s did not advertise positions to recruit constituency staff within their offices, the MAIL can reveal.

Just three out of six Mid-Ulster Assembly members advertised current office positions.

Sinn Fein, whose Mid-Ulster Assembly representatives include Francie Molloy, Martin McGuinness and Michelle O’Neill, were the only party to use an open recruitment policy in employing staff.

Fellow MLA’s Ian McCrea (DUP), Patsy McGlone (SDLP) and Sandra Overend (UUP), who employ a total of eight full-time and part-time staff, said they had not recruited current office employees through advertised positions.

Following last week’s story on MLA expenses the MAIL this week asked each local Assembly member:

* How many full-time and part-time staff are currently employed in each constituency office?

* Were the positions advertised?

* If any employees are family members?

* How many staff are currently recruited on a consultancy or freelance basis?

The answers revealed that currently only 4 out of 13 jobs created by local MLA’s were employed via an open recruitment basis.

Sinn Féin’s Francie Molloy, Michelle O’Neill and Martin McGuinness employ five full and part-time constituency staff across three constituency offices. Each of these positions were advertised, with no staff employed on an freelance or consultancy basis.

A party spokesperson added that none of Sinn Fein MLA’s within Mid-Ulster “directly employ any family members”.

The DUP’s Ian McCrea, who employs two full-time members of staff alongside one part-time position, said his wife currently undertakes a part-time secretarial role in his offices while his brother-in-law works as a personal assistant and researcher.

He said: “I employ people I trust. If I advertised the jobs, I could be in the position where I ended up employing someone who supports a different political party and I couldn’t trust them.”

Mr McCrea said he also employs one person on a freelance basis “when needed”.

SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone, who does not employ any family members in his two constituency offices in Cookstown and Maghera, said: “I currently employ four staff – one full time and three part time between the two constituency offices I run.

“While none of the positions were advertised, I sought in individuals with certain skills to fulfil the roles required in my offices. There are also a number of volunteers who help out in my offices at various times.

He added: “I do not employ any family members or employ anyone on a consultancy or freelance basis.”

UUP MLA Sandra Overend currently employs one full-time member of staff who was not recruited through an advertised position.

Mrs Overend said she employs her father, former MLA Billy Armstrong, on a consultancy basis since January 2012.

Open recruiting is where all external applicants as well as current employees are eligible to apply for a position with an employer.