No rule to prohibit MEPs from hiring family of colleagues

Clare Daly has defended hiring son of Mick Wallace as a European Parliament assistant

Clare Daly has defended hiring the son of her political colleague Mick Wallace as a European Parliament assistant. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Clare Daly has defended hiring the son of her political colleague Mick Wallace as a European Parliament assistant. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The practice of MEPs hiring members of their immediate family as staff was banned in 2009 and phased out finally in 2014.

There is no rule, nor would one be either feasible or reasonable, MEPs say, prohibiting, as Clare Daly has done, the hiring of members of the family of colleagues . The parliament rules simply require that the hiree genuinely performs the allocated task.

The newly elected MEP has defended hiring the son of her political colleague Mick Wallace as a European Parliament assistant. Fionn A Wallace is listed as one of Ms Daly’s three parliamentary assistants on the parliament’s website. Ms Daly said she was happy to stand over the credentials of her parliamentary assistants.

Among past MEPs who have hired family members in the 90s , before the rule changes were: Green Nuala Ahern, who employed he niece Roisin, Ian Paisley, who employed his son, now MP, Ian Paisley Jnr to manage his office in the North, and Dana Scallon, whose brother John Brown worked for her in Brussels and Ireland.

MEPs can choose their own staff, within a budget set by Parliament. In 2019, the maximum monthly total available for all the costs of recruiting personal assistants is € 24,943 per MEP. None of these funds are paid to the MEP themselves, a practice that has evolved to ensure that they can no longer personally benefit from the allowances.

They can chose “accredited assitants” - three, or, exceptionally four - based in Brussels and Strasbourg who are managed under the parliament’s administration and staff conditions.

At least a quarter of the total staff budget must be used for their employment. The balance can be used to hire “local” assistants based in their member states. These are managed administratively by special paying agents to ensure that tax and social security requirements are properly met.

The assistants are required to avoid external activities that may cause a conflict of interest.. The names of all assistants are published on parliament’s website.

Until the introduction of the new rules in 2009 any MEP could employ their immediate family as parliamentary staff. MEPs who were still employing spouses in 2009 had a ‘transitional’ period of five full years they could continue employing them; and many took advantage .

In 2013 Marine Le Pen employed her ‘partner’ now-MEP Louis Aliot as an assistant. British MEP Nigel Farage had employed his wife since 2006 as a parliamentary assistant. When the complete ban entered into force in 2014 it was fellow Ukip MEP Raymond Finch who hired her to be his parliamentary assistant. Several Latvian MEPs followed suit by employing each other’s relatives as parliamentary interns.

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