Ministerial Code: Independent Investigation of Alleged Breaches

Part of Private Members' Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 1:45 pm on 24th January 2017.

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Photo of Philip McGuigan Philip McGuigan Sinn Féin 1:45 pm, 24th January 2017

I thank the Members for bringing the motion forward. I have no difficulty supporting it and the sentiments within it. Sinn Féin is in favour of openness, transparency, the accountability of the Assembly and the accountability of the Executive and Ministers. Ministers, as with other Members, should be required to act to the highest possible standards. We need adequate procedures to make sure that is the case. Ministers must also act in the public interest. The ministerial code of conduct states, among other things, that Ministers must:

"observe the highest standards of propriety and regularity involving impartiality, integrity and objectivity in relationship to the stewardship of public funds ... operate in a way conducive to promoting good community relations and equality of treatment ... not use information gained in the course of their service for personal gain; nor seek to use the opportunity of public service to promote their private interests".

Obviously, it says more than that, but I chose to read those paragraphs out because I think the public will be surprised to hear that is how all Ministers are supposed to behave and make decisions, given all that has happened over the last couple of months with regard to some DUP Ministers.

I am stating the obvious when I say that public confidence in these institutions has diminished in recent times. The key reason for that is that the public do not agree that certain DUP Ministers and certain decisions they have taken have abided by the sentiments that I just read out. Leaving aside Red Sky and the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), purely because of time constraints —