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Assembly must take lead on standards in public life

27 February, 2008


Sinn Fein South Down MLA Willie Clarke, who is a member of the Assembly Standards and Privileges Committee, has said that the Assembly must take the lead on standards in public life and particularly in ensuring that the is openness when it comes to employing family members and in family members receiving payment for offices.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of committee, Mr Clarke said:

"The whole issue of family members being employed by Assembly members and receiving payment for the rental of offices has undoubtedly damaged public confidence and led to a perception that politicians are riding the gravy train.

"The recent revelations about Gregory Campbell and Kieran McCarthy only serve to re-enforce that perception.

"The Assembly must act and act decisively to build public confidence. No MLA or family member should profit because of their public service.

"This means that we need to be open and transparent. It means we need to look at the guidelines and make changes to ensure high standards.

"The Assembly must take the lead on standards in public life and particularly in ensuring that there is openness when it comes to employing family members and in family members receiving payment for offices.

"The fact is that some parties and member are engaged in unacceptable behaviour.

"Sinn Féin will be seeking to end the practice whereby members can use public monies to rent properties from family members and other practices like this which are not in the public interest. Issues of propriety and accountability in public life are very important.

"Public confidence is essential and the public is entitled to expect the highest standards from everyone in public life. The Assembly has a responsibility to ensure this is the case." ENDS

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