MLAs declarations of employing connected or associated persons

Information Standards Freedom of Information Response

Our Ref: FOI 29-22

4 July 2022

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)


I am writing to confirm that the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission (Assembly Commission) has processed your request dated 1 June 2022 in line with the Freedom of Information Act 2000. In your request, you asked:

“Under the Freedom of Information Act, I would like to request details of MLAs declarations of employing connected or associated persons.

According to Assembly rules, MLAs must declare to the AssemblyCommission any employees who are 'connected or associated persons':


For each MLA elected or co-opted since the March 2017 election to present, please disclose the following: 

1.a) The number of connected persons declared as having been employed by the MLA.

b) For each, please provide the approximate date of the declaration, and the details provided of the connection or a summary explaining the connection (e.g. family member, member of same political party, business links)

In relation to the reporting and publishing of information on connected or associated persons it is important to note that the manner in which this information is collected, stored and reported varies depending on the intended purpose.

Paragraph 34 of the Assembly Members (Salaries and Expenses) Determination (Northern Ireland) 2016 as amended by the Assembly Members (Salaries and Expenses) (Amendment) Determination (Northern Ireland) 2020 (“the Determination”) provides that a Member may seek recovery of staff costs in respect of the employment of one connected person, as defined, or the engagement of one connected person through an agency, only if a declaration is made.

The requirement to make a declaration in respect of employing a connected person was introduced by the 2016 Determination. All Members who were re-elected following the May 2016 election and continued to employ a connected person, as defined by the 2016 Determination, were therefore required to make the declaration at that time.  However, from that date, any Member who wishes to employ a connected person must make the declaration in order to facilitate the recovery of costs.

Therefore, the Assembly Commission records and analyses a declaration received from a Member in relation to a connected person to ensure that the provisions of the Determination are met i.e. that the costs for only one connected person can be recovered.

For those Members elected, re-elected or co-opted since the March 2017 election there are 14 declarations that have been made and these are summarised at Appendix A.


2.a) The number of associated persons declared as having been employed by the MLA.

b) For each, please provide the approximate date of the declaration, the details provided of the connection or a summary explaining the connection (e.g. member of same political party, employee of political party of which MLA is a member, etc.)”

In relation to “Associated Persons”, declarations are received by the Assembly Commission for the purposes of recovering staff costs but the Determination simply requires that a declaration is made. Having made a declaration, there is no limit on the recovery of costs for an associated person or person.

The Assembly Commission has completed a review of its records and found that the dataset requested is held only in its raw form. For the purpose of section 11(5) of the FOIA, a “dataset” means information comprising a collection of information held in electronic form where all or most of the information in the collection—

(a) has been obtained or recorded for the purpose of providing a public authority with information in connection with the provision of a service by the authority or the carrying out of any other function of the authority,

(b) is factual information which—

(i) is not the product of analysis or interpretation other than calculation, and

(ii) is not an official statistic; and

(c)    remains presented in a way that has not been organised, adapted or otherwise materially altered since it was obtained or recorded.


The Assembly Commission anticipates that the dataset would require material alteration, reorganisation and adaptation in order to comply with this request.

Furthermore, the FOIA does not require the creation of datasets for publication, nor does it require datasets to be updated if they would not otherwise have been updated as part of our statutory function.

You have the right to request a formal review by the Assembly Commission and if you wish to do so, please write to me at the above address. If after such an internal review you are still unhappy with the response, you have the right to appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF who will undertake an independent review.

The Assembly Commission may publish details of your FOI request and our official response within the organisational disclosure log. The request will be completely anonymised and you will not be identified in any way. This is to meet the requirements as laid out by in the agreed publication scheme with the Information Commissioners’ Office.


Yours sincerely



Appendix A

Members elected or co-opted since March 2017 who have made declarations of connected persons


Date of Declaration

Nature of Connection*

Jim Allister

May 2016

Family member

Alex Easton

May 2016

Family member

Steve Aiken

June 2016

Family member

William Irwin

May 2016

Family member

Paula Bradshaw

June 2016

Family member

Paul Givan

May 2016

Family member

Trevor Clarke

August 2017

Family member

Roy Beggs

May 2016

Family member

Paul Frew

May 2016

Family member

Paula Bradley

October 2019

Family member

Harry Harvey

March 2020

Family member

Joanne Bunting

October 2017

Family member

Pam Cameron

November 2020

Family member

Michelle McIlveen

November 2020

Family member

This table also contains the names of former MLAs who are currently in the winding up period and are continuing to recover costs.

*Where the connection is by way of being a “family member”, “family member” is defined in paragraph 47 (2) of the 2016 Determination.


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