The politcal gravy train

By Stephen Pollard
January 12, 2010

Forget the lurid details of Iris Robinson's affairs. The single most shocking thing to emerge from the scandal is surely the amount of taxpayers' money handed over to Peter and Iris Robinson. Martin Fletcher reports in today's Times that:

In 2007-08 the pair received a total of £571,939

In one year!

Here's how:

All but two of Northern Ireland’s MPs are also members of the
Northern Ireland Assembly, entitling them to handsome combined salaries and
generous expenses. Although Sinn Féin’s five MPs have refused to take their
Westminster seats, they still managed to claim nearly £500,000 for renting
three London properties.

The Rev Ian Paisley was simultaneously an MEP, an MP and Stormont’s First
Minister and still claimed Westminster’s maximum allowance of £400 a month
for food. Ian Paisley Jr might have followed in his father’s footsteps had
he not had to resign as a Stormont minister in 2008 over links to a
developer for whom he lobbied and from whom he bought a holiday home.

But when it came to accumulating wealth, nobody could match Peter and Iris
Robinson. He is an MP and was — until yesterday — Northern Ireland’s First
Minister. She is an MP — eased into the seat by her husband — and a member
of the Stormont Assembly, though not for much longer.

In 2007-08 the pair received a total of £571,939 from those posts. They also
use their parliamentary allowances to employ their two sons, daughter and
daughter-in-law as aides. The Robinsons own a house in Florida, an apartment
in the London Docklands area and a strikingly luxurious home in East
Belfast, with chandeliers, silk curtains, hand-printed wallpaper, murals and
every room designed with a different theme.

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I'm still in shock at the sums handed over to these two hacks. 


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