Sweet-toothed MLAs munch through £1,400-worth of mints

Mints are provided for MLAs in the Assembly
Mints are provided for MLAs in the Assembly

MLAs must be feeling truly minted after their consumption of the sweets grew by half in the last year.

Since the practice of giving its elected representatives free mints began in 2009, the Stormont Assembly has spent £1,386.55 on rolls of the confectionery.

The last financial year saw £357.50 spent on 650 rolls – the highest so far, and around 50 per cent higher than the previous annual figure of £224.95 on 418 rolls.

With 108 MLAs in the Assembly, this would amount to virtually six free packs of mints per elected member.

The numbers were revealed by the TUV’s Jim Allister in a question to the Assembly Commissioners.

He claimed that the practice of giving them out for free “demeaned” the Assembly.

In a statement accompanying the numbers, he said: “Uniquely among legislatures, the Stormont Assembly provides free mints at the Speaker’s table to sustain our MLAs.

“Though MLAs are on £48,000 per annum and ministers on over £80,000 per annum, it is clearly too much to expect them to buy their own mints, so the taxpayer provides them instead!

“Indeed some MLAs sometimes seem more interested in the mints than in the proceedings. One has even been observed entering the chamber specifically to load up on mints and then immediately leaving without even sitting down.

“Little wonder Stormont is held in contempt by so many.”

When the criticism was put to it, the Assembly’s press team responded with the following line: “An Assembly spokesperson said: ‘The Assembly has no comment to make’.”

Mr Allister has asked the question before, and made similar comments to the BBC last year.

He told the corporation that he could sometimes be seen as a “sourpuss”, adding: “In my time I’ve uncovered more important things.”

However, he finds the practice of giving them away for free to be “intriguing”.