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

The Member knows as well as I do that, if he looked through the list of those that received money from the halls fund, he would see it was obviously imbalanced towards one section of the community in a great way over and above the other section.

As I said, those decisions were disgraceful and indefensible. They show a lack of balance and transparency and of any attempt to promote good community relations or equality of treatment. I could not tell you how many people have stopped me in the street prior to and after Christmas to ask how Paul Givan and the DUP could get away with the decisions they are making. Any one of those issues was serious enough, but the three coming in close succession displayed for everyone to see that he has no concern for the ministerial code of conduct. They are examples of a blatant sectarian distribution of funds by the DUP. Indeed, the nature and tone of his letter withdrawing the Líofa funding on the day before Christmas Eve was bad-mannered in the extreme and unbecoming of anyone taking on the role of Minister in this institution.

Add to that the recent revelations about the renewable heating incentive (RHI) scheme, which was set up and designed by a DUP Minister and overseen by DUP Ministers. There are allegations that DUP advisers delayed the closure of the scheme, which has the potential to cost the ratepayers and taxpayers of the North up to £500 million. Those allegations, which continue to grow daily, are further examples of the need to ensure that Ministers, in conducting their business and making their decisions, are held to account by proper procedures.

I welcome the inquiry to be set up by Máirtín Ó Muilleoir to deal with the issues around the RHI scandal and get to the bottom of it. That scandal is a clear and obvious example of why the work of Ministers needs to meet the highest standard. There has been arrogance, stubbornness and disrespect to Members, the general public and public finances recently from DUP Ministers. That is not how Ministers should conduct their business.