Archive for October, 2009
“I was absolutely horrified by the news that a young woman was taken hostage from her Bangor home and forced at gunpoint to drive to Newtownards, where she then was made to steal from her employers.
Her fear for her own life and for her partner, kept at home by an accomplice gunman, is unimaginable. Mercifully, the ordeal for this young couple ended without them being physically injured, but I’m quite sure the mental trauma will endure for a considerable time.
I must say, I have nothing but the greatest admiration for their courage in the face of such a terrifying kidnap situation. Equally, I have nothing but contempt and condemnation for the pair of callous and calculating criminals, who carried out this despicable crime.”
October 22nd, 2009
North Down MP, Lady Hermon, has been completely vindicated in challenging Sir Thomas Legg’s provisional assessment that she should repay one month’s rent of £1365 to the House of Commons.
Last Tuesday, in a letter to the sole Ulster Unionist MP, Sir Thomas had queried rent being paid twice by the Fees Office in January 2007 for the London flat she rented at that time. Later that day, Lady Hermon e-mailed the Legg Inquiry Team asking them to double-check the documentary evidence available within the Fees Office. Those documents included a letter from her then landlord requesting that rent be paid at the beginning of the month, not the end, and also a Statement from the Fees Office clearly showing that Lady Hermon had been reimbursed in 2007 for only 12 months rent, not 13. She had, nevertheless, immediately forwarded a cheque for £1365 to the House of Commons in case an error had occurred.
Within 24 hours, however, Sir Thomas Legg’s office telephoned Lady Hermon directly to confirm that she was in fact correct and no action was required by her. Her cheque for one month’s rent will be returned to her in due course.
A follow-up letter from Sir Thomas has now been received by the North Down MP, stating that he had “not identified any payments” made to her, which require “any repayment or further supporting evidence to be provided” by her.
Responding to this latest development, Lady Hermon said: “I’m obviously delighted Sir Thomas Legg has reviewed his provisional findings in my case and has now determined that I have absolutely nothing to repay to the House of Commons. I am particularly grateful to Sir Thomas Legg for the very prompt correction of his initial conclusion.
With this clean bill of health for my expenses, I can now refocus my efforts on serving the people of North Down and proudly representing them at Westminster.”
October 20th, 2009
The Ulster Unionist MP, Lady Hermon, has confirmed that her letter from Sir Thomas Legg was faxed to her home earlier today. He has indicated one query about rent being paid twice by the Fees Office in January 2007, and has provisionally requested repayment of one month’s rent of £1365.
Lady Hermon said: “My expenses claims for the last five years have now been examined by Sir Thomas and he has raised only one query. I have never owned a second home in London and never had a mortgage there, but I did rent a flat until Sir Jack went into hospital early in 2008, when I terminated the lease.”
Lady Hermon went on to explain: “In January 2007, my then landlord increased the rent of the London flat and he also wrote to me asking for the rent to be paid a month in advance. I forwarded the landlord’s letter to the Fees Office at that time, and so it should be on file there.
Consequently, there was indeed a double payment of rent by the Fees Office in the month of January, but none was then paid in February. Statements received from the Fees Office for 2007 indicate that I received reimbursement for 12 months rent, not 13. I have responded to Sir Thomas today, asking him to reconcile his provisional conclusion with the figures already provided by the Fees Office. If an error has occurred, I’d be quite content for the cheque I have sent today to the House of Commons for one month’s rent of £1365 to remain there.”
October 13th, 2009
“I still find it extremely hard to believe that Ron has gone from our midst and that I’ll never again hear his very distinctive voice, asking me how the boys are doing or recounting something interesting that has happened in Kilcooley. Ron was a people’s person, not insular or self-seeking, but always outward-looking and giving of himself to others. He was enormously proud of his children and delighted in talking about them and what they had achieved.
It was at the school gates of Connor House that I first came to know Ron over a dozen years ago. He served there as the lollipop man and did so with real enthusiasm, instilling in the children an understanding of road safety…as well as an interest in football. He had a wealth of knowledge about both. During his time at the school, Ron acquired a phenomenally good memory of the Connor House pupils, and took a lively interest in how their careers developed.
He demonstrated the same keen interest in Kilcooley and especially in all the activities of its ‘Over 50s Club’, of which he was undoubtedly a leading light. The Club can never be the same without Ron, and we are certainly the poorer without this warm, good-natured and gentle man. Ron will be sorely missed not only by his immediate family but also by his community in Kilcooley and by the many friends he made and kept throughout his life. I was honoured to have found myself numbered amongst them, and I’ll miss him greatly.”
October 1st, 2009
“Outrageous. That was my immediate and abiding reaction to the news that thousands of pounds of taxpayers money had been spent on a memorial garden in Kilcooley. I understand the sum is around £70,000.
That’s an enormous amount of money by anyone’s standards, and will have to be accounted for in detail. Whilst I admire much of the work that Margaret Ritchie does within her Department, I can’t pretend that I’m anything other than furious with the priority given to a garden, over and above improving the living conditions of the elderly and deserving in the area.”
October 1st, 2009
“Rory’s death is a truly dreadful loss of a dearly-loved and personable young man. He should have lived a long and fulfilled life, and his parents ought not to have to bury their child or his grandmother stand at his graveside. Tragedy struck, however, carrying Rory to an early grave and leaving his family changed for ever.
Only last week, we had hoped and prayed for his recovery but, unknown to everyone at that time, Rory’s head injuries were too serious. His family and his girlfriend have already shown enormous courage in coping with the terrible emotional trauma, as they waited beside his hospital bed since the car accident. Now they will need even more courage and strength to come to terms with the empty space in their home and in their lives.”
October 1st, 2009