Politicians from East Derry and Mid Ulster are among more than 20 former assembly members in line for a ‘Stormont severance package’ after they were not returned to Stormont in this year’s election.

The County Derry Post reported recently that more than 30 former MLAs received payments to help them adjust to life outside of politics, when they were not returned to the Assembly after the 2016 election.

A total of £1,174,999 was given to the politicians who did not return to the Assembly last May, with £696,331 given out in resettlement allowances and £471,151 spent on ‘winding-up’ the former members’ Assembly business.

It’s expected that tens of thousands of pounds will be paid out to Adrian McQuillan of the DUP and former SDLP MLA Gerry Mullan in East Derry, as well as Sandra Overend of the UUP, who failed to regain her seat in Mid Ulster.

According to a report on Assembly members’ salaries, an MLA can receive a resettlement payment if they decide not to stand for re-election, or does stand and is not returned at an election.

The report states that in these circumstances a former member “may recover a resettlement payment of one calendar month’s salary for each completed year of service, with reference to the salary paid to an ordinary Member, subject to a maximum payment equal to 6 months’ salary.”

“A resettlement payment is analogous to a redundancy or notice payment. It is designed to recognise that politics can be a short-term and unpredictable occupation.”

“The amount is based on the Member’s age at the date of dissolution and the number of complete years of service as a Member at that time.”

Having served as an MLA for ten years, Adrian McQuillan can expect a significant severance package, some of which will go towards winding down business at the DUP’s Garvagh office, as well as helping him adjust to life outside of politics.

Sandra Overend has been an assembly member since 2011, while Gerry Mullan represented East Derry in Stormont for less than a year.

Stormont severance payments were a hot topic in East Derry during the run up to the election, after it was revealed that John Dallat of the SDLP received £50,784 when he stepped down as an MLA.

This included a resettlement payment of £28,800, while £21,984 went towards winding up assembly business.

Support staff salary costs totalling £17,375 were paid from the latter figure, as were rent and rates for the East Derry SDLP office.

Mr Dallat told the County Derry Post in January that he planned to consult SDLP staff about potentially returning money.

“I am certainly not going back into the Assembly to make money. That’s not the motivation,” he said.

“If there’s money that needs to be paid back, it will be paid back.”

Former Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Ó hOisín also received a severance package of £32,883 last year. This included a £15,998 resettlement payment and £16,807 going towards winding up assembly business at the Sinn Féin constituency office in Dungiven.

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