DUP politicians told to repay profits from taxpayer-funded second homes

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) defrauding the North of Ireland’s tax payers 

East Derry MP: Gregory Campbell has agreed to repay £61,403
Sammy Wilson MP: Total mortgage interest claimed £19,6.33.90
Six of North of Ireland’s Democratic Unionist MPs have been told to hand back almost £144,000 worth of profits from taxpayer-funded homes, it has been revealed.

 

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) announced that 70 UK politicians have agreed to repay hundreds of thousands of pounds following negotiations.

The expenses watchdog moved to ban the use of Commons expenses to pay mortgage interest in May 2010, in the wake of public fury over “flipping” and other abuses.

Fuck the DUP

However, transitional arrangements were put in place permitting MPs elected before 2010 to keep claiming the money up to last August – as long as they agreed to return any potential capital gain made from the rising value of London properties.

East Derry MP Gregory Campbell has agreed to return £61,403 for a property in London he still owns – the second-largest repayment to be made.

Fellow party members Sammy Wilson, William McCrea, Nigel Dodds, Jeffrey Donaldson and David Simpson have also struck deals to hand back profits:

 

Gregory Campbell (DUP, East Londonderry)

Total mortgage interest claimed £16,755.00

Total repayment due to IPSA £61,403.18

David Simpson (DUP, Upper Bann)

Total mortgage interest claimed £11,208.65

Total repayment due to IPSA £30,308.40

William McCrea (DUP, South Antrim)

Total mortgage interest claimed £6,929.91

Total repayment due to IPSA £29,793.60

Nigel Dodds (DUP, Belfast North)

Total mortgage interest claimed £25,434.16

Total repayment due to IPSA £19,507.76

Jeffrey Donaldson (DUP, Lagan Valley)

Total mortgage interest claimed £20,338.06

Total repayment due to IPSA £1,448.46

Sammy Wilson (DUP, East Antrim)

Total mortgage interest claimed £19,633.90

Total repayment due to IPSA £1,448.46

Some 71 Members of Parliament received around £1 million in allowances for mortgage interest during the period.

The properties were formally valued at the beginning and the end, and the MPs were given until November 30 to return a proportion of any gain.

Ipsa said it would consider a longer repayment schedule – possibly extending to 2015 – if returning cash quickly would “create hardship”.

But the process was delayed when a number of MPs signalled that they were considering a legal challenge on the grounds that the watchdog had overstepped its powers.

Repayment deals have now been struck with 70 of the MPs, with only Conservative MP Stewart Jackson’s case still to be settled. He has been asked to hand over £54,000 in relation to a property in his Peterborough constituency, but has disputed the amount calculated.

The largest repayment, of £81,446, has been returned by Tory MP for Clwyd West, David Jones.

Mr Campbell was implicated in the 2009 expenses scandal, when leaked files revealed he had made second-home claims of more than £77,000 over four years.

The DUP man had also claimed £11,500 in hotel bills between 2005 and 2006, before moving into his flat in London, and racked up £4,675 on furniture and appliances including TVs and a DVD player.

It is the second financial blow this week for Mr Campbell, who represents East Derry at both Westminster and Stormont.

Yesterday’s Queen’s Speech outlined the Government’s Northern Ireland Bill, which would ban him from “double-jobbing” as both MLA and MP.

Gregory Campbell said he backed the Government’s decision to “bring forward legislation on dual mandates”.

“As part of the new expenses system introduced at Westminster I sold a property which previously had been purchased. This sale has resulted in the taxpayer being some £60,000 better off,” he said.

“At no point neither I nor any of my colleagues queried or contested the figures put forward by IPSA.

“It is also welcome that the Government has finally moved to bring forward legislation on dual mandates. This is something the DUP has called for for some years now.

“Failure to reduce the number of MLAs however will mean extra cost to the public purse as the new scenario has absolutely no financial implication for myself as I do not receive any salary for my role as an MLA, which at the moment saves significant money from the public purse.”

With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph for the original story 

General Election 2019: Nigel Dodds claims that he condemns the sectarian Anti-Finucane banners being erected in Belfast this comes after a statement this morning from the DUP claiming they were unaware of any such banners being erected

Nigel Dodds said the DUP had nothing to do with the banner. Anything personally offensive, smearing and inaccurate of any candidate in the Westminster election must be condemned, DUP “Deputy Dog” Dodds has said.

It follows the removal of a banner which targeted Belfast’s Lord Mayor John Finucane on Monday

The banner, in Belfast’s Tiger’s Bay area, contained allegations about the Sinn Féin North Belfast election candidate and his family.

Mr Dodds said the DUP had nothing to do with the banner.

He said the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had been “crystal clear” on the use of violence and the activity of those who take part in “vile internet trolling” of victims and some unionist politicians.

However, he also challenged Sinn Féin not to be selective, calling on republicans to “stop eulogising the violent perpetrators of the IRA” including the gunman who shot a police officer guarding him when he was visiting his seriously ill son in hospital in 1996.

Ulster Unionist leader Steve Aitken said the banners “need to come down, no two ways about it”.

Belfast City Council workers were flanked by police as they removed the banner on Monday.

One of the sectarian Anti-Finucane banners targeting John Finucane’s father Pat who was murdered by loyalist Paramilitaries at his home in North Belfast in 1989

Supt Melanie Jones said police were in attendance “to ensure the safety of persons removing a banner from council property”.

“Enquiries are under way to establish if these banners constitute any criminal offence or offences, including a hate incident or hate crime,” added Supt Jones.

‘Hatred and division’
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said there had been an “appalling and dangerous” campaign of “harassment, intimidation and threats against John Finucane and his family”.

He is a candidate in next month’s Westminster election in the North Belfast constituency, which is also being contested by outgoing DUP MP Mr Dodds and Nuala McAllister of the Alliance Party.

Mr Finucane’s father, Pat, was a solicitor who was shot dead by loyalists at his home in north Belfast in 1989.

The PSNI said it had also received reports about banners erected in south Belfast, adding enquiries were being made.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said banners targeted at candidate Claire Hanna had appeared in south Belfast.

“The banners that have been erected in Belfast targeting John Finucane and Claire Hanna seeking to sow hatred and division are disgusting,” said Mr Eastwood.

“Those responsible are cynically using, abusing and retraumatising victims for narrow political purposes.”

With many thanks to: BBC NewsNI for the original story 

Sinn Féin and the DUP now neck to neck in North Belfast according to the Bookies

Conversation
Seán South
@Seanofthesouth
#NorthBelfast From today #JohnFinucane has caught up with Dodds in the betting stakes, now neck in neck -looks like Finucane could pull ahead as momentum
seems to be building for his anti-Brexit/pro-remain message! #SouthBelfast Doesn’t look good for E.Little-Pengelly in 3rd spot

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7:54 PM · Nov 12, 2019Twitter for iPhone
Seán South
@Seanofthesouth
% correct-#SouthBelfast is drifting further by the day from the #Dup grasp as it now seems the #UUP are up for a scrap there after being intimidated out of the #NorthBefast fight by loyalist paramilitaries-a dish serve cold it seems in SB.
With many thanks to: Seán South for the original posting on Twitter@Seanofthesouth

The DUP, Democratic Unionist Party and it’s connections with armed loyalist Paramilitaries

Conversation

Sarah @Sal_feeko

🚨

Public Announcement

🚨

Could all intended candidates** please submit their nomination papers and canvassing intentions to the address below for ratification by the relevant stakeholders. Many thanks.

DUPUDA HQ 91, Dundela Ave, Belfast BT4 3BU **excludes T Elliott

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11:07 AM · Nov 11, 2019Twitter for Android
With many thanks to: Sarah for the original posting on Twitter@Sal_feeko

Boris Johnson accused of being ‘drunk uncle at a wedding’ during rambling l

Boris Johnson has been compared to a “drunk uncle at a wedding” after a rambling and incoherent speech for local Conservative members in the North of Ireland

Video of the speech has gone viral after the Prime Minister claimed Northern Ireland was getting a “great deal” by staying in the European Union’s single market and keeping “free movement” (unlike the rest of the UK). He is seen to state

Conversation

Lewis Goodall
@lewis_goodall
NEW: I’ve obtained the full video of PM yesterday. In it he is asked point blank if any NI>GB trade will be subject to customs declarations. PM: “You will absolutely not. If anyone asks you to do that tell them to ring up the PM and I’ll direct them to put that for in the bin.”
1:03
1.2M views

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1:59 PM · Nov 8, 2019Twitter for iPhone
These are legally binding international commitments. Not sure what the EU will think about the PM apparently reneging on details of his deal so quickly. When his own ministers appear to be trying to implement them

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As I reported last month govt docs, including the new NI protocol are clear. There WILL be new processes for NI so long as it stays in EU reg zone. You either have to conclude the PM doesn’t understand his own policy or is misrepresenting it to this room.
Conversation
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🇬🇩

🔶

@ScorpioSting72

Putting aside the complete lies he is telling, is this the best the country can do for a leader, a drunk, mad uncle at a wedding reception? There are conversations with bots on Twitter more statesmanlike than the constant lies & word spaghetti #BorisJohnson aka(

🤥

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) spouts

NEW: I’ve obtained the full video of PM yesterday. In it he is asked point blank if any NI>GB trade will be subject to customs declarations. PM: “You will absolutely not. If anyone asks you to do that tell them to ring up the PM and I’ll direct them to put that for in the bin.”

Full transcript. By my count PM gives no fewer than six assurances that there will be no forms to fill in on NI to GB trade. He says his Brexit Secretary

is wrong. He says “there will be no forms, no checks, no barriers or any kind. You will have unfettered access.”

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There was confusion on Monday as to whether the checks/forms that will need to be done for goods going from NI to GB would need to be done by firms exporting the other way, from GB to NI. Barclay refused to say. Dexeu confirms to me that they will. So checks in both directions.
Show this thread

Lynne Haywood@LynneHaywood

😳
Is he drunk?
Will people really to keep this guy in ?

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See Lynne Haywood’s other Tweets

Michael East@MichaelEast1983

Boris Johnson a new inductee into the Boris Yeltsin school of making up policy when drunk https://twitter.com/lewis_goodall/status/1192803905824075776 

Lewis Goodall

@lewis_goodall

NEW: I’ve obtained the full video of PM yesterday. In it he is asked point blank if any NI>GB trade will be subject to customs declarations. PM: “You will absolutely not. If anyone asks you to do that tell them to ring up the PM and I’ll direct them to put that for in the bin.”

Embedded video

See Michael East’s other Tweets
When you come out of the EU customs union which is what we’ve done, you have to have some way of checking that goods that might attract a tariff going from the United Kingdom into Ireland pay that tariff, if there is to be a tariff.

Johnson continues, “The only place you can do it, if you don’t do it at the border, is at the border in Northern Ireland” before claiming:

Jim Pickard@PickardJE

the looks on their faces

View image on Twitter

The great thing that’s been misunderstood with this is there will not be checks, there will not be checks – I speak as the prime minister of the United Kingdom and a passionate Unionist – there will not be checks on goods going from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.

People had thoughts on this, as you might expect, not least because Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay has previously stated that Northern Ireland businesses will be forced to fill out export declaration forms when sending goods to Britain. Which would completely contradict Boris Johnson, who to believe? Who knows.

The video was initially shared by Sky News political correspondent Lewis Goodall:

Social media speculated that the PM was not only confused by his own Brexit deal, that he was also drunk.
Others thought his performance could best be summed up by those around him:

With many thanks to: Indy100 and Darren Richman for the original story 

Follow this link to find out more: 

Brexit Secretary hints UK could rethink DUP veto on deal

Don’t forget everyone the DUP are lying to everyone! And the elections are just around the corner. ‘PUT YOUR VOTE WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS!

Stephen Barclay also says government willing to discuss detail of customs proposals

Stephen Sparrow Brexit Secretary

The Brexit secretary has hinted that the government could amend its proposal to give the Democratic Unionist party an effective veto over its plan for an alternative to the Irish backstop

With EU leaders not willing to accept the UK’s ideas and talks between the two sides suspended over the weekend when Boris Johnson had been hoping to intensify them, Stephen Barclay said on Sunday that the government would be willing to discuss changes to the mechanism designed to ensure the new arrangements receive political approval in Northern Ireland.

He also sounded open to possible further movement on customs, saying the UK was willing to discuss the detail of how it’s plan might work

Can Boris Johnson’s border plan break the Brexit deadlock?
In rhetorical terms the government has shifted considerably from what it was saying just before it published its plan for an alternative to the backstop on Wednesday, when it was insisting this would be its “final offer” to the EU.

But the gap between the two sides remains considerable, and Barclay’s emollient language may be motivated as much by a desire to deflect accusations that the government is being unreasonable as by any serious expectation of a deal being reached before the EU summit starting on 17 October.

Under the UK plan, Northern Ireland would remain in the EU single market for goods after Brexit but in the UK customs territory. This arrangement, intended to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, would depend on the Northern Ireland assembly voting for it, and continuing to vote for it every four years.

One objection to this is that the assembly is currently suspended. Another is that, under the “petition of concern” mechanism used for contentious issues in the assembly, votes have to be agreed not just by a narrow majority but with the backing of a significant block of both unionist and nationalist assembly members. In practice this means the main unionist and nationalist parties, the DUP and Sinn Féin, can exercise a veto.

Quick Guide
Why is the Irish border a stumbling block for Brexit?

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The No 10 plan envisages the assembly having to vote for Northern Ireland joining the EU single market for goods, meaning the vote could only be won with DUP support. If the default were for Northern Ireland to be in that arrangement, only exiting if the assembly voted to leave, then in practice it would be Sinn Féin that had the veto.

On Friday Julian Smith, the Northern Ireland secretary, was told by some of the non-DUP parties in Northern Ireland that what was being proposed was a non-starter.

One source with knowledge of the meeting said: “The message has gone back from all quarters in Northern Ireland, from Sinn Féin to the Traditional Unionist Voice, that this is unworkable and it will destabilise the institutions and the Good Friday agreement and is not plausible – and in light of that, if [Smith] is serious about getting a deal, he has to come back with something more realistic.”

Jamie Bryson showing his true hatred to the EU by supporting the Nazis and German SS

On Sunday, in an interview on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show, Barclay indicated the government might consider moving on this. Asked if he was willing to change the system being used to ensure the new arrangements had the backing of the people on the island of Ireland, he replied: “The key issue is the principle of consent.

Jamie Bryson showing his full support for Erin go bragh (allegiance to Ireland) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erin_go_bragh

“Now, the mechanism – we’ve set out proposals in our legal text. We can obviously, as part of the intense negotiations in the coming days, discuss that mechanism.”

Barclay was also asked if the UK would shift on its plans for minimal customs checks, away from the border, on goods travelling between Northern Ireland and Ireland. These are currently unacceptable to EU leaders who complain they are too vague and that they would in practice fail to protect the integrity of the single market and the customs union.

Asked if the government was willing to compromise further on customs, Barclay said: “We’ve set out a broad landing zone. In the detail of the negotiations, of course we can get into the detail as to how operationally they work, what legal certainty is required by the commission.”

In public ministers have sounded relatively conciliatory in recent days, while also stressing that the UK will leave the EU on 31 October despite parliament having passed a law, the Benn act, intended to stop a no-deal Brexit. In private government sources have been briefing that the prime minister might subvert the act, and even try ignoring a vote in parliament for him to be replaced by someone else as leader of an interim government.

Asked if Johnson would comply with the Benn act, which requires him to write to the EU by 19 October requesting a Brexit extension if no deal has been agreed by then, and if MPs have not voted to authorise no deal, Barclay replied: “I can absolutely confirm that the government will abide by the law. The prime minister is clear on that.”

Asked if that meant he would send the letter, Barclay said: “Whatever the law says, we will comply with the law.”

But Barclay sidestepped a question about why a “senior No 10 source” told the BBC that Johnson was not prevented by the Benn act “from doing other things that cause no delay”, including sending messages to EU countries intended to persuade them to reject an extension.

In a separate interview on the Andrew Marr Show, Shami Chakrabarti, the shadow attorney general, said Johnson would be acting unlawfully if he did this.

“If you send the letter, as you are required to under the law, and then seek to undermine it by other means, you have not kept faith with the law. You have not fulfilled your specific statutory duty to seek an extension. That would be unlawful conduct,” she said.

With many thanks to: The Guardian and Andrew Sparrow and Lisa O’Carroll for the original story

Ian Paisley memorial unveiled in Belfast

The Sculpture was made out of a tree from the garden of the Paisley home

 

Former Taoiseach (Irish PM) Bertie Ahern was among family and friends of the late Ian Paisley who gathered to remember him on what would have been his 93rd birthday.

Catholic priest Fr Brian D’Arcy was also at the event on Saturday – the unveiling of a sculpture dedicated to the former DUP leader and first minister of Northern Ireland.

The sculpture was made out of a tree from the garden of the Paisley family home in east Belfast.

Lord Paisley’s widow, Baroness Paisley, explained the story of the sculpture.

She said: “We had a beautiful wych elm tree. It succumbed to age and we had to take the sad and upsetting decision to have it felled.

“Our daughter Rhonda thought we might be able to use the tree as a memorial piece to Ian, so we began to make that happen.”

Baroness Paisley commissioned County Galway Wood Turner Liam O’Neill to make the sculpture

A woodturner from Spiddal in County Galway, Liam O’Neill, was commissioned by the Paisley family.

The family already owned a piece of his work, a bowl turned from a walnut tree which had stood on the site of the 1690 Battle of the Boyne, near Drogheda.

It was given to Lord and Lady Paisley in 2006 by Mr Ahern to mark their 50th wedding anniversary.

‘Great friends’
At the time, Mr Ahern was taoiseach and the gift was presented at the conclusion of the St Andrew’s negotiations in Scotland which paved the way for the DUP and Sinn Féin to enter into government together the following year.

Known as the ‘Bertie Bowl’, the gift helped break down the long-held suspicion of the Paisleys towards the Irish government.

Speaking on Saturday at the unveiling of the new sculpture, Mr Ahern said: “After coming from different backgrounds, and different ways of looking at things, we turned out to be great friends.”

Ian Óg Paisley and Bertie Ahern greeted each other with a hug at the event

 

Among the other politicians at the event were DUP North Antrim assembly member Mervyn Storey and former Lord Mayor of Belfast, Ulster Unionist Jim Rodgers.

The detailed carving work on the sculpture was done by Phillip Steele, who is based at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum near Holywood in County Down.

The sculpture will soon be on display in East Belfast

Lord Paisley died at the age of 88 in September 2014 after a long career in the House of Commons, House of Lords, European Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly.

On the base of the sculpture there is a flax flower representing the assembly, a portcullis representing Westminster and five stars representing the five terms he served in the European Parliament.

The sculpture will soon go on display in east Belfast.

With many thanks to: BBCNI and Mark Simpson for the original story

Related Topics
Ian PaisleyDUP (Democratic Unionist Party)

Another DUP counciller in trouble over racist remarks

DUP councillor Graham Craig has been told not to distribute the leaflet

The DUP says a leaflet produced by a councillor for the upcoming elections that cites “local homes for local people” was not sanctioned by the party.

Graham Craig is a DUP councillor in the Botanic area.

BBC News NI has tried to contact Mr Craig for comment but has yet to receive a response.

The leaflet also says Mr Craig will focus on “taking back control of immigration”.

But DUP councillor Lee Reynolds said housing and immigration were matters that should be handled sensitively.

In a statement on Twitter, Mr Reynolds also said the matter had been referred to party officers.

Lee Reynolds is the DUP’s Belfast city council group leader.

Image Copyright @CllrMichaelLong@CLLRMICHAELLONG
Report
“An instruction that it should not be distributed has been given to councillor Craig,” added Mr Reynolds.

‘Dog whistle racism’
The leaflet has been criticised by the Alliance Party leader Naomi Long.

She said there was no place for “this kind of dog whistle racism and sectarianism in our community and all parties need to stand together on that”.

Mrs Long said she welcomed the DUP’s response and looked forward to action being taken regarding Mr Craig’s actions.

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story

Follow this link to find out more about who is in power with the Tory government and their racist ways: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-45560092

 

Community Service for DUP pervert councillor convicted of sexually assulting female colleauge

Suspended: DUP pervert Ian Stevenson the now convicted sex pervert and sex offender

A DUP councillor convicted of sexually assaulting a nursing colleague has been given 220 hours community service.

Ian Stevenson was also put on the sex offenders register for five years after being found guilty of deliberately squeezed the woman’s breast at a care home in Co Antrim.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard the 49-year-old nurse and former mayor of Ballymoney could now be at risk of losing both his job and his home.

Stevenson maintains his innocence and is set to appeal the conviction.

But he was told that he is entitled to limited credit for contesting allegations he carried out the assault and then joked that he would “grope anything”.

District Judge Amanda Henderson said: “The injured party had to come to court and was clearly extremely distressed in her testimony.”

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His trial heard he allegedly asked for a hug while talking to the woman on a corridor in April 2017.

She claimed that after raising her arms Stevenson, of Headlands Avenue in Ballymoney, grabbed her breast.

“He actually squeezed when he did it,” the woman said in her evidence.

During the hearing she described responding by pushing him away and telling him “no”, adding that the encounter left her shocked and frightened.

“He just basically tried to laugh it off and made the joke ‘You know me, I would grope anything… well, not anything’,” the woman claimed.

The court was told she later sent Stevenson a Facebook message, expressing her “disgust” at what allegedly happened.

Asked how the incident has affected her, she replied: “It makes me nervous that somebody in that position could take such an advantage.”

With Stevenson emphatically denying the sexual assault charge, it was put it to the woman that her allegations were inconsistent and false.

Defence counsel argued it was unbelievable that a public figure and nurse of 22 years standing would carry out the alleged act in the middle of a care home.

It emerged in court that Stevenson has since been dismissed from his nursing position – an action which is to be challenged at a tribunal.

The defendant, a representative on Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, has also been suspended by the DUP pending the outcome of the case.

He claimed it was the woman who offered him a hug when he told her he was going to lay a wreath on a friend’s grave.

At no point did he grab or touch her breast, he insisted.

Questioned about his alleged comments, he told the court: “Anybody that knows me, anybody in the political sphere, knows that I have never cursed in my life, which might seem a bit incredible, and I certainly would not say anything like that.”

Following his conviction he returned to court today to be sentenced.

A defence barrister confirmed Stevenson continues to protest his innocence and has secured employment in another nursing area.

She described him as a man of “impeccable character with high standing in the community”.

Counsel said: “Whilst he does deny the offence, he has very clear views why that type of behaviour would be wrong.”

The court was told Stevenson still has the full support of his family, including his elderly parents who rely on him.

“Due to working as a councillor and a nurse his employment will be in jeopardy,” his barrister added.

“He’s likely to lose his home if he’s unable to make his mortgage payments.”

Ruling out any custodial sentence, Judge Henderson instead ordered him to serve 220 hours community service.

She also directed that he must comply with notification requirements under sexual offence legislation for a period of five years.

Stevenson’s appeal against conviction is expected to be heard early next year.

With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph for the original story.

Special Advisers: Does the North of Ireland have different rules than GB?

DUP Leader Arlene Foster said she believed she was “accountable” but not “responsible” for the conduct of her special advisor

DUP leader Arlene Foster caused controversy in September when she told the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Inquiry she believed she was “accountable” but not “responsible” for the behaviour of her special adviser Andrew Crawford.

Earlier this month, the inquiry chair Sir Patrick Coghlin said he remained unclear exactly what the former first minister had meant by her remark.

The rules governing the accountability of special advisers (spads) appointed under the old Stormont Executive do not make clear how responsible or accountable their ministers should be for their conduct.

This contrasts with the corresponding rules which govern the conduct of special advisers in the UK civil service.

UK code much clearer
A lawyer acting for the DUP told the inquiry she would have to take further instruction on whether Arlene Foster accepted she could not be “absolved” of the responsibility for decisions that had been taken by her officials.

On the final day of the RHI inquiry, a barrister acting on behalf of a group of civil servants involved in the matter referred to Mrs Foster’s comment.

The barrister argued the officials he represented were “not dancing around on the distinction between responsibility and accountability. They accept both”.

It has now emerged that the UK code of conduct for special advisers is much clearer about the responsibility of ministers than its Stormont equivalent.

The UK code states that “the responsibility for the management and conduct of special advisers, including discipline, rests with the minister who made the appointment”.

It adds: “It is also the appointing minister’s responsibility to ensure that their special adviser(s) adhere to this code of conduct. It is, of course, also open to the prime minister to terminate employment by withdrawing her consent to an individual appointment at any time.”

NI spads ‘have status of civil servants’
By contrast, the Stormont special advisers’ code does not specify how accountable or responsible ministers should be for their advisers’ behaviour.

The role of former DUP spade Andrew Crawford came under scrutiny at the RHI Inquiry

The code says spads “have the status of civil servants and are remunerated from public funds. It is accepted, however, that there is a personal nature to such appointments which requires a high degree of rapport and trust between the parties involved to make them a success”.

A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Department of Finance told BBC News NI: “The Northern Ireland version of the ministerial code (2007) and the special adviser code (2013) are different from the rest of the UK.

“The ministerial code and special advisers’ code do not make any reference to the role of ministers in disciplinary matters affecting spads.”

The spokesperson added: “Northern Ireland has had its own code of conduct for special advisers since the establishment of the Assembly in 1999. The 2013 code of conduct, in line with previous versions, states that disciplinary matters are dealt with in accordance with the NICS staff handbook.”

Earlier this month the BBC revealed that the department is reviewing the Northern Ireland Civil Service code of ethics after a key discrepancy emerged in relation to keeping “accurate official records”.

The BBC understands the same review will also consider the discrepancy in the UK and NI special adviser codes in relation to ministerial responsibility and accountability.

With many thanks to the: BBCNI and Mark Davenport NI Political Editor 

 

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