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From The Socialist newspaper, 27 February 2008

Sleaze in Northern Ireland: Keeping it in the family

THE RESIGNATION of Ian Paisley junior as a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) minister in the Northern Ireland Executive, follows months of intense speculation over the nature of his relationship with Seymour Sweeney, a millionaire property developer based in North Antrim.

Gary Mulcahy, Socialist Party Belfast

A Pandora's box was opened last September when DUP ministers revealed that they were 'minded' to give permission to a private developer to build a visitors' centre at the world heritage site, the Giant's Causeway, even though millions had already been spent on developing a publicly funded project.

Seymour Sweeney, the developer behind this prestigious bid, had the support of Ian Paisley junior who it now transpires has 'lobbied' on his behalf for many developments.

When quizzed about his relationship with Sweeney, Paisley junior initially replied he merely "knew of him". It then quickly emerged that not only was Sweeney a local member of the DUP but he was also a close associate of the Paisleys.

Paisley junior even used his position during the crucial peace process talks at St Andrew's in October 2006 to demand action on a list of commercial projects in his constituency linked to Sweeney. Tony Blair replied, in a letter released under the Freedom of Information act, that he would "look positively" at his requests.

The stench of sleaze has not only damaged Paisley junior, but also his father the First Minister. It has now emerged that the Paisleys are claiming 62,500 a year from public funds for rental costs of their constituency offices in Ballymena, which happen to be owned by a company called Sarcon 250.

And guess who happens to be the sole director of this company? None other than Seymour Sweeney, what a coincidence!

Leadership crisis

It is also now likely an official investigation will be carried out by the parliamentary standards commissioner into Ian Paisley senior for using part of his Westminster allowance to employ Ian junior as a 'researcher' on a salary of 9,000 to 11,000 a year, on top of the 62,000 he receives as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and junior minister.

The resignation of Paisley junior, to the clear delight of many senior DUP figures, has led to much speculation over the leadership of the party with some commentators stating Paisley senior could be removed as leader as early as May.

The sleaze scandals which have hit Westminster have now forced politicians in all the parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly to reveal how they have used their positions to secure income for family members through jobs and rents for properties they own. One MLA has even claimed expenses for the cost of rent of a portable cabin on his own farm!

These revelations (at a time when it is being proposed that MLAs receive a 16% pay increase, while one in four children officially live in poverty), have reinforced a hatred amongst working-class people towards the politicians.

Despite the tensions between the sectarian parties in the Assembly, their neo-liberal budget has shown they are united in attacking working-class communities and supporting big business.

The need to build a socialist alternative which can unite workers and youth against the right-wing policies of the sectarian parties has never been greater.

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In The Socialist 27 February 2008:

Rich get richer - We pay the bills


Unison witch-hunt

Editorial: Stop witch-hunts in Unison - defend those attacked!

Trade union activist fights intimidation

Members protest at Unison witch-hunt


Socialist Students

Student feature: Fighting fees


Campaign for a New Workers Party

Building the Campaign for a New Workers' Party


Workplace news

Shelter staff vote to strike

Acas staff ballot for strike

Journalists battle for union rights

Workplace News in brief


International socialist news and analysis

Scotland - Vendetta against Tommy Sheridan condemned

Feature: Fidel Castro's resignation opens up new chapter

Pakistan elections: Crushing defeat for Musharraf, landslide for opposition parties

Miliband's extraordinary apology on rendition

Sleaze in Northern Ireland: Keeping it in the family


Socialist Party campaigns

Don't let our hospital pay the price for PFI

Explosive mood on gas profits

Fight Devon and Somerset fire cuts

Marching against single status pay cuts

Neither Labour nor Tories will defend public services

Post Office closures

Sheffield buses campaign: 'Saving our services'


 

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Related links:

Ireland:

triangleBuild for strikes to save NHS

triangleNorthern Ireland: Thousands of nurses continue to strike for better pay

triangleNorthern Ireland: Health workers take action

triangleNorthern Ireland: strike action by NHS workers

triangleNorthern Ireland: Uniting the working class to transcend division

Sleaze:

triangleTory sleaze is back!

triangleForce Cameron out!

triangleFast news

triangleNew workers' party needed

Northern Ireland:

triangleWaltham Forest: mobilisation needed to defend abortion rights

triangleNationalisation only way to safeguard jobs and skills at Wrightbus

triangleBristol South Socialist Party: Northern Ireland and the impact of Brexit

Belfast:

triangleNorthern Ireland, August '69: 'Battle of the Bogside' and British troops on the streets

Freedom of Information Act:

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