‘Auditor raises more questions over DUP dinner’ - Hardy
New revelations around a controversial DUP fundraising dinner raise more questions about the actions of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Sinn Féin Councillor Patrice Hardy has said.
Cllr. Hardy was commenting on reports that the Audit Office has concluded that the Council breached its own policy by paying £1500 for a table at the dinner hosted by DUP MP Ian Paisley. Currently, the policy limits spending on attending events to £500.
Cllr Hardy said: “When I first raised fears that rate payers’ money may have been used to fund the DUP through the decision to buy a table at this event, these concerns were dismissed by Mid and East Antrim Council.
“I was forced to submit Freedom of Information requests and to ask the Electoral Commission to intervene, simply to try and get answers as to how ratepayers money was being used by the Council.
“Now the latest revelations from the Audit Office raise more questions about the actions of the Council. Local authorities are not permissible donors to political parties but if it is the case that Council officers knowingly breached their own policy in order to pay this money, that is a very serious matter.
“The ratepayers of Mid and East Antrim have a right to know whether the DUP benefitted financially from the council’s money, and if so, what is going to be done about it.”
Cllr. Hardy also criticised plans by the Council to unilaterally introduce a new policy for future events.
She said: “Given the history of this Council, particularly the Paisley dinner, it seems incredible that Council officers are now attempting to bring in a new policy that would not have any spending limit in place.
“To compound matters, they are attempting to do this without seeking the approval of elected members first. That is entirely unacceptable. Elected councillors are the decision makers and I will be strongly opposing any move to subvert that principle.”