FOI 37-22: MLAs' declarations of employing connected or associated persons

Information Standards Freedom of Information Response

Our Ref: FOI 37-22

19 August 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 19 July 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 Assembly Commission any employees who are 'connected or associated persons':

This is a follow-up to FOI 29-22, which failed to disclose much of the requested information.

For each MLA elected or co-opted since May 2022, please disclose the following:

1. A copy of the specific original declarations submitted to formally confirm they are employing, have employed or intend to employ a connected person (such as declaration forms, email correspondence, or whatever format that is required by the Assembly).

2.  A copy of the specific original declarations submitted to formally confirm they are employing, have employed or intend to employ an associated person, (such as declaration forms, email correspondence, or whatever format that is required by the Assembly).

The Assembly Commission has determined that the information requested is held, however the Assembly Commission is unable to provide a response within the appropriate fees limit. Section 12(1) of the FOIA allows the Assembly Commission to decline to answer FOIA requests when it is estimated that it would cost more than £600 (equivalent to 24 hours, calculated at £25 per hour as determined by the Information Commissioners’ Office) to identify, locate, extract, and then provide the information that has been asked for.

The Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004 determines the activities the department can take account of, to determine the costs it reasonably expects to incur in relation to the request.

Locating, retrieving and extracting the information you requested would be extremely time consuming and would require a manual search of our records. The Assembly Commission carried out a small-scale exercise and as a result has calculated that it would take in excess of 42 hours of staff time, attracting an overall cost of at least £1050 to provide the information within the scope of your request.

You may wish to narrow the scope of your request and be more specific about the information required. Based on these calculations, we have estimated that some information could be provided if the scope was narrowed within the fees limit, for example, copies of paper records held in relation to connected parties elected, re-elected or co-opted since May 2022. However, if your reframed request can be processed, exemptions may still apply.


Connected Persons

In order to provide advice and assistance under section 16 of the FOIA 2000, you may wish to consider viewing the Register of Members’ Interests on our website.

Please click here to view the Register of Members Interests.

For those Members elected, re-elected or co-opted since the May 2022 election there are twelve declarations that have been made and these are summarised at Appendix A.

Further to an update in July 2022, the Assembly Commission is content that the raw data information relating to connected persons has been accurately reflected in the Register for Members’ Interests available on our website.

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 may appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF which will undertake an independent review.

The Assembly Commission may publish details of your FOI request and its 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

Information Standards


Appendix A


Date of Declaration

Nature of Connection

Jim Allister


Family Member

Steve Aiken


Family Member

Paula Bradshaw


Family Member

Joanne Bunting


Family Member

Pam Cameron


Family Member

Trevor Clarke


Family Member

Alex Easton


Family Member

Paul Frew


Family Member

Paul Givan


Family Member

Harry Harvey


Family Member

William Irwin


Family Member

Michelle McIlveen


Family Member

*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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