Former DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly among special advisers

‘Spad’ list announced in connection with New Decade, New Approach deal

Emma Little-Pengelly is among 14 people appointed as special advisers – Spads – to Stormont’s ministers on an average annual salary of £62,750 (€75,438). Photograph: Paul Faith

Emma Little-Pengelly is among 14 people appointed as special advisers – Spads – to Stormont’s ministers on an average annual salary of £62,750 (€75,438). Photograph: Paul Faith

 

The former DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly has been appointed as a special adviser to the North’s Executive Office on a salary of £78,000 (€93,770).

Ms Little-Pengelly, who had been the MP for South Belfast, lost her seat in the British general election in December.

She is among 14 people appointed as special advisers – known as Spads – to Stormont’s ministers on an average annual salary of £62,750 (€75,438). This is £10,000 (€12,022) less than the average salary for special advisers as of January 2017.

Other appointments include Alastair Ross, a former DUP MLA and junior Stormont minister, who will become a special adviser to the minister for the economy, Diane Dodds.

The former Sinn Féin MLA Dr Dara O’Hagan will also become a special adviser to the Executive Office, while the Alliance Party’s head of policy, Claire Johnston, has been appointed as Naomi Long’s Spad in the department of justice.

The list was announced by the North’s department of finance on Friday following a commitment to increased accountability and transparency agreed as part of the New Decade, New Approach deal last month.

Concerns had been raised over the influence and lack of accountability of special advisers during the inquiry into the Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) scheme. The report, by retired judge Sir Patrick Coghlin, is due to be published next month.

Under the revised code of conduct for Spads, published following the restoration of the Stormont Assembly last month, special advisers are to be paid within three pay bands starting at £55,000 (€66,121) and capped at £85,000 (€102,180) per year.