SDLP MLA Conall McDevitt quits over expenses scandal

SDLP MLA Conall McDevitt quits over expenses scandal

A politician tipped as a future leader of the SDLP sensationally quit on Wednesday night over a THIRD expenses scandal.

Dublin-born Conall McDevitt resigned after it was revealed he failed to declared a £6,750 payment from a PR company to the Stormont Assembly.

It was the latest money scandal to engulf the south Belfast MLA.

Yesterday, it was revealed that he had paid £30,000 of public money to a company called JM Consulting for research work over the past two years for him in his role as a member of the Policing Board.

And last month it was revealed that more than £14,000 from Mr McDevitt’s assembly office cost allowance was paid to researchers through his wife’s firm, JM Consulting.

Sums of £8,000, £4,900, £800 and £600 were paid through JM Consulting to four researchers between 2010 and 2011.

Mr McDevitt said that money was paid to the researchers and his wife did not benefit from the arrangement.

However, McDevitt failed to declare on the register of Members’ Interests that the company belonged to his wife Joanne Murphy.

Last night, SDLP Dr Alasdair McDonnell accepted his party colleague’s resignation from political life with immediate effect.

In a statement, Dr McDonnell said: “Conall McDevitt has done the right thing by resigning after admitting his failure to register funds received by him during his time as MLA in accordance with assembly rules.

“I welcome Conall’s speedy and definitive response in this regard and accept his resignation.”

In a statement, Mr McDevitt said last night said he was quitting political life immediately.

“Over the past few weeks there has been considerable public interest in my use of public money. I am satisfied that at all times I complied with the obligations on me and am compliant with my duties.

“Between March 2010 and August 2010 I received a total of £6,750 from my former employers, Weber Shandwick for internal work.

“I resigned as Managing Director of the Belfast office in December 2009 and I provided support and mentoring to the new management team following my departure from the company.

“I was never asked to nor did I ever represent any of the company’s clients whilst an MLA.

“These payments were made through JM Consulting, a consultancy which my wife has an interest in. These are registerable interests under the Assembly rules. I have now registered these earnings on my register.

“My failure to register these interests at the time means that I have fallen below the standards of expected of me in public office. I have done my best to discharge my duties as an MLA with integrity but there is no question that I failed to do so on this occasion.

“I apologise unreservedly for my failures in this regard.”

Asked last night what he now plans to do now , a tearful Mr McDevitt said: “I don’t know what the future holds for me.

“I am out of work.

“I suppose I will have to got and get a job,” he added.



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