DUP MLA in line for £45k Spad severance deal

DUP MLA Emma Pengelly, right, with DUP leader Peter Robinson and party colleague Arlene Foster
DUP MLA Emma Pengelly, right, with DUP leader Peter Robinson and party colleague Arlene Foster

A DUP MLA who until last week was one of Peter Robinson’s special advisers (Spads) is in line for a large severance payment — and has given no indication that she will forego the money.

Emma Pengelly, who earned a basic salary of almost £92,000 as one of four DUP advisers in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM), is now eligible for a “golden handshake” of up to £45,000, the Irish News reported.

The News Letter asked the DUP if it wanted to comment on the report. The party declined to do so but it did not dispute the claim that Mrs Pengelly is in line for a significant payment.

Mrs Pengelly had taken a substantial pay cut last week when she became an MLA, where the basic salary is £48,000.

The new South Belfast MLA’s husband is Richard Pengelly, permanent secretary of the Department of Health. As a senior civil servant, his salary — including his pension benefits — is in the region of £135,000 to £140,000.

Other Spads who have lost their jobs because their DUP minister has resigned — unlike Mrs Pengelly, who chose to resign — will also get payouts.

However, if they return with their minister in coming weeks they will only be able to keep the portion of the lump sum which they would have earned had they stayed in post.

TUV leader Jim Allister said the payouts showed that DUP Spads “won’t lose a penny” as a result of the DUP boycott.

“This is a preposterous abuse of public money. Spads can be out of post, do no work – go on holiday if they like – and still in the end get fully paid for every day they didn’t work and weren’t a Spad.

“Alternatively, if they don’t come back they get six months pay – the first £30,000 of which would be tax free.”