Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Environment Minister 'may be liable for prosecution' if Causeway papers aren't released

17 January, 2008

Sinn Féin has called on the Environment Minister to fully disclose all papers relating to the application for a Visitors Centre at the Giant's Causeway. North Antrim MLA Daithí McKay was speaking after the Environment Committee invoked Section 44 proceedings calling on the Minister to disclose all documents relating to the application.

The Environment Committee will now put a formal request to the Speaker of the Assembly to furnish a written request to the Minister calling on her to release all relevant documents. If the Minister were to refuse such a request from the Speaker she may be liable for prosecution.

Mr McKay said:

"The Environment Committee will now make a case to the Speaker of the Assembly to invoke Section 44 proceedings against the Minister of the Environment.

"This is the first time that any committee in the Assembly has put forward a Section 44 request, and we are doing so after exhausting all other efforts to get the Minister to disclose key documents relating to the Giant's Causeway Visitors Centre application. The Assembly has never exercised this power before and if the Speaker of the House issues a notice under Section 44 and the Minister refuses, she may be liable to prosecution.

"There is now mounting pressure on Arlene Foster to make a final decision on this application and to reverse her 'minded' decision to approve Seymour Sweeney's proposals in September.

"The public believes that the Planning Process should be transparent and up to now the Minister has not delivered that in regard to Seymour Sweeney's application for a Visitors Centre at the Causeway." ENDS

Note to Editors

Sinn Féin, the SDLP and UUP all voted for the proposal to enact Section 44, the DUP and Alliance voted against.

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