Five city councillorsin DSD-funded jobs

FORTY-FOUR per cent of politicians employed within the last five years by community groups financed through the Department of Social Development’s (DSD) Neighbourhood Renewal fund were Londonderry Sinn Féin representatives, it has been revealed.

Of nine councillors across Northern Ireland employed by community organisations in receipt of Neighbourhood Renewal funding, four were republicans from Londonderry.

Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland was asked to provide details of councillors that have been employed in each of the last five years, by Foyle SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood.

He revealed four Sinn Féin councillors from Londonderry were amongst nine across Northern Ireland employed as community workers during the period in question, including the current Mayor Kevin Campbell.

The Minister listed Elisha McCallion (nee McLaughlin), formerly of the Galliagh Development Trust (2008/2009 - 2010/2011); Maeve McLaughlin, formerly of the Glen Development Initiative (2008/2009 - 2012/2013), and now an MLA; former Sinn Féin councillor Gerry Maclochlainn (2008/2009 - 2012/2013) of Hillcrest House; and Kevin Campbell, of the Bogside and Brandywell Initiative (2008/2009 - 2012/2013) as former or current Sinn Féin councillors - entitled to a basic annual allowance of £9,738 - who were also employed as state-funded community workers.

Add DUP Alderman Drew Thompson, who works for the Waterside Area Partnership (2008/2009 - 2012/2013), and the quota of Londonderry councillors employed by groups in receipt of Neighbourhood Renewal cash is 56 per cent of the province-wide total.

In total five local political representatives were paid out of the state purse for communtiy work whilst also claiming up to £9,738 in basic allowances; the Mayor of Londonderry is meanwhile entitled to up to £30k in allowances during his or her year in office.

The Sentinel has also obtained details of what community workers at the DSD-funded groups in question received over recent years.

Workers at the Galliagh Development Trust were paid between £17k and £31k; workers at the Glen Development Initiative were paid between £22k to £26k; workers at Hillcrest House Ltd. were paid between £17k and £28k; workers at the Bogside and Brandywell Initiative were paid between £17k to £29k; and workers at the Waterside Area Partnership were paid between £15k to £27k.

Other funded community workers employed within the last five years whilst elected to councils across Northern Ireland were Sinn Féin councillor for New Barnsley and Turf Lodge Janice Austin of the Greater Turf Lodge Residents Association/Ardmonagh Family and Community Group (2008/2009 -2012/2013); Sinn Féin councillor for the Markets area Deirdre Hargey of the Clonard Neighbourhood Development Association (2011/2012 – 2012/2013); UUP Alderman for South Belfast Robert Stoker of the South City Resource and Development Centre; and former DUP Alderman Ian Crozier of the Lower North Belfast Community Council (2008/2009).

In all fifty-six per cent of the employees/councillors were from Londonderry; forty-four per cent of the employees/councillors were Sinn Féin councillors from Londonderry; and 67 per cent province-wide were Sinn Féin councillors.

The revelation follows a recent Sentinel report which revealed that the Galliagh Development Trust’s failure to publically advertise a job temporarily given to Councillor Elisha McCallion back in 2008 was deemed unacceptable by DSD.

And during the summer the Sentinel also reported how most Londonderry community workers paid out of the DSD Neighbourhood Renewal fund earned more than the average wage between 2009 and 2011 with one state funded employee taking home a handsome £41k-£44k.

The Sentinel reveal that hundreds of state-funded community workers were being paid more than what the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) calculated to be the median gross annual income in the city in 2010 (£18,699).

And the paper showed that dozens of community workers in the city earned between £10k and £20k more than this median wage over 2009/10 and 2010/11 alone.