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Environment Committee call for all Causeway papers

18 October, 2007


Sinn Féin Newry Armagh MLA Cathal Boylan, who is a member of the Assembly Environment Committee, has said that if the Environment Minister Arlene Foster refuses to allow the committee access all papers relevant to the Seymour Sweeney Giant's Causeway application in order to allow it to proper scrutinise the Ministers decision and fulfill its statutory role that the committee may be forced to action a section 44 request to disclosure of papers.

Mr Boylan said:

"There is huge discomfort at the decision of Arlene Foster, not least because of the threat to World Heritage status. It is essential that the committee is allowed full access to all papers relevant to the Seymour Sweeney Giant's Causeway application in order to allow it to proper scrutinise the Ministers decision.

"We need to make it clear to Arlene Foster that this issue will not just go away and that it is in her interest to allow full disclosure. If there is nothing to hide then she should not stand in the way of the committee carrying out its statutory duty to hold the Minister and the department to account.

"Today we clarified the situation in relation to the unfortunate situation where we be forced to submit a section 44 request compelling papers. This would be a request to the Speaker to use his formal power to call for papers which have been reasonably and properly requested with clarity by a Committee which have not been forwarded by the Department with valid reasons as to why they will not release said papers.

"If, as is suggested, Arlene Foster is in the final stages of a preliminary decision then clearly all papers should b e available.

"This section 44 request should only be as a last resort. Arlene knows that there are a huge number of unanswered questions. Sinn Fein is determined to get to the bottom of this because we have huge concerns about the future of the site, the threat to the status of the site and concerns about one of Ireland premier natural assets being sold off to the benefit of a private developer." ENDS

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