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Scrutiny Committee asked to investigate Margaret Ritchie

19 February, 2008


Sinn Féin South Down MLA Willie Clarke has said that the Assembly Social Development Committee should investigate the use the departmental press office by the Minister Margaret Ritchie to issue a party statement about a feasibility study into the Narrow Water Bridge.

Mr Clarke said:

"I think that the decision of Margaret Ritchie to use the Department of Social Development Press Office to issue a statement on an issue that clearly had nothing to do with the department will have put staff in a difficult position.

"All Ministers must be aware that there is a difference between issuing statements through the departmental press office, which is paid for out of the departmental budget, and issuing statements through their own party structures.

"I will be formally asking the Assembly Social Development Committee to investigate the use of the departmental press office by the Minister Margaret Ritchie to issue a about a feasibility study into the Narrow Water Bridge.

"I am concerned that this use of departmental resources comes at a time when old people are at risk because of cuts to the Warm Homes Scheme, when waiting lists are at record highs and the housing crisis deepens every day.

"What is even more tragic is that this publicly funded political intervention was on an issue agreed last year. It was an attempt to grab headlines at the expense of much more important issues that the Housing Minister should really be focusing on." ENDS

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