Further Consideration Stage

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:45 pm on 26th January 2009.

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Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson DUP 12:45 pm, 26th January 2009

I am grateful to the Member. He is right, and, in fact, that point was raised on 18 occasions during debates on the earlier Stages of the Bill. The erroneous argument was made that the Bill required accelerated passage because the Executive had not met for 154 days. In support of that argument, the leader of Mr O’Loan’s party relayed to the House leaked information that had been provided to him by some dishonourable person whom he has not named. [Interruption.]

I am sure that everyone agrees that someone who leaks a confidential Government document is, unquestionably, dishonourable. I am sure that the Member will accept that the document dated 2 October 2008 may not have signalled the end of the issue and that his Minister came to her Executive colleagues and said that her officials were pursuing with the Departmental Solicitor’s Office and officials from other Departments whether another Department had the power to make the payments. There is a fistful of correspondence that demonstrates that right up to December 2008, the matter had not been closed. Therefore, the challenge has been answered, and I hope that there will not only be a withdrawal but an apology from the leader of the SDLP.