Jim Allister is from Ballymena. He won the seat in 2004 as a candidate for the DUP but left in disgust at the power sharing government with Sinn Fein. He represented North Antrim in Stormont Assembly and served as chief whip of the DUP. He was born into a farming family in County Down in 1953 and studied law in Queen’s University Belfast. He was personal assistant to then MEP, Ian Paisley, in the European Parliament from 1980 to 1982, though he has lately engaged in a row with the DUP over expenses the tenor of which is caught in his questioning “how it was possible to have a huge European salary paid for 7 years for [Ian Paisley’s] post, supposedly based in Brussels, to Rhonda Paisley, who never lived there and who was even able to take months out to prepare an art exhibition. Yes, I could reduce my travel bill by following the DUP pattern of not bothering to attend the parliament to which I am elected, but, sorry, I believe in doing the full-time job of fighting for Northern Ireland in Europe”. He specialised in criminal law as a barrister. Mr Allister was one of three incumbent MEPs who chose not to participate in this questionnaire for Village. The following is an overview of how Allister might have responded. All answers were constructed by Village.
What do you think is the role of an MEP?
His role as an MEP has been to promote Northern Ireland and particularly his own views on political and social morality in the European Parliament.
How does the official role of an MEP differ from that of other politicians?
The difference is the concentration on European matters although during this election campaign his main theme is his opposition to unionists sharing power with republicans in the North’s new institutions.
How would you describe your politics?
How have you used your role as an MEP?
He has been outspoken against the promotion of equality for gays.
Can you tell us your total claimed expenses for the last five years?
Not known but the DUP claims he draws almost £300,000 a year from public funds in salary, staff, office and expenses. He has recently criticised MPs including DUP leader, Peter Robinson and his wife, Iris, over the abuse of expenses in the UK parliament. Says European expenses scheme is “far from perfect” but “at least we don’t buy houses with them”.
Is that a reasonable figure and why so?
Far from perfect.
Is the European Parliament directly or indirectly employing or paying for relatives of yours to do work on your behalf?
Not known but he has attacked family dynasties in Northern Ireland politics.
Are you happy with the voting group with which you or your political party is allied?
What do you think about the Lisbon treaty?
What do you think about Brian Cowen’s performance? Does not like Brian Cowen.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Tell us a joke.
Not known for his sense of humour.