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Sinn Féin’s Daithí McKay makes formal complaints against DUP

23 February, 2009


North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has made a formal complaint against DUP Members Sammy Wilson and William Irwin to the Assembly's Standards and Privileges Committee. Mr McKay has accused the Environment Minister Sammy Wilson of being in breach of the Members' Code of Conduct, the Ministerial Code of Conduct and the Seven Principles of Public Life when he said that job preference should be given to people from the Six Counties over anybody else.

Mr McKay said:

"If all governments were to adopt the ridiculous stand being put forward by Sammy Wilson Irish workers would ultimately be worse off. Such comments will only serve to scare off inward investment and sends a negative narrow-minded message out to the rest of Europe.

"As a Minister he should not be making such statements which encourage people to break the law. If an employer were to give preference to workers who were born in the Six Counties over other workers as a result of Mr Wilson's comments they would be breaking the law. As such Mr Wilson has failed in his "duty to uphold the law".

"Sammy Wilson needs to acknowledge what he said was wrong and irresponsible. If his proposals were to be implemented the Assembly's Ceann Comhairle, Willie Hay, might even be out of a job because he is originally from Donegal.

"Mr Wilson's party colleague William Irwin has been found guilty in the courts of polluting a river and putting fish stock at risk. It is important that the Committee investigate this complaint and put down a marker that environmental crime is just as serious as any other type of crime and should be treated as such." ENDS

Below are the two complaints submitted by Mr McKay to the Assembly's Standards and Privileges Committee:

Letter of complaint against Mr Sammy Wilson MLA

A Chara

Re: Complaint against Mr Sammy Wilson

I would like to lodge a complaint against Mr Sammy Wilson MLA.

On Sunday 25th January 2009 Mr Wilson, the Minister of the Environment said:

"However, when it comes to a downturn, I think if jobs are becoming vacant and you've got people with equal skills, and can do the job, etcetera, then I think preference should be given to people from Northern Ireland."

Mr Wilson is a Minister and as such oversees a Department which must abide by all employment law. By saying that preference for jobs should be given to people within the Six Counties over those who were not born here but may reside here during "a downturn", Mr Wilson is stating that employment law should be broken during a recession. As a Minister he should not be making such statements which encourage people to break the law. If an employer were to give preference to workers who were born in the Six Counties over other workers as a result of Mr Wilson's comments they would be breaking the law. As such Mr Wilson has failed in his "duty to uphold the law".

Under the heading 'Public Duty', the Code of Conduct states that:

"Members have a duty to uphold the law and to act on all occasions in accordance with the public trust placed in them.

"Members have a general duty to act in the interests of the electorate and the community as a whole; and a special duty to their constituents."

Mr Wilson has clearly not acted "in the interests of the electorate and the community as a whole" as part of that community was not born in the Six Counties and by stating that employment law be breached during a recession in such a way will lead to part of the community and part of the electorate being discriminated against.

The Code also states that:

"Members shall at all times conduct themselves in a manner which will tend to maintain and strengthen the public's trust and confidence in the integrity of the Assembly and never undertake any action which would bring the Northern Ireland Assembly, or its Members generally, into disrepute."

His comments have clearly brought this Assembly into disrepute and have weakened the public's trust and confidence in the integrity of the Assembly. We have a duty to represent all of the people of the Six Counties and all of the electorate, not just those who are born here or who are indigenous.

I also believe that Minister Wilson has breached the Ministerial Code's Pledge of Office in the following areas:

(c) to serve all the people of Northern Ireland equally, and to act in accordance with the general obligations on government to promote equality and prevent discrimination;

(ca) to promote the interests of the whole community represented in the the Northern Ireland Assembly towards the goal of a shared future;

(cd) to uphold the rule of law based as it is on the fundamental principles of fairness, impartiality and democratic accountability, including support for policing and the courts as set out in paragraph 6 of the St Andrews Agreement;

(g) to comply with the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

Mr Wilson has broken the Ministerial Code of Conduct in the following areas:

(iv) follow the seven principles of public life set out by the Committee on Standards in Public Life;

(vi) operate in a way conducive to promoting good community relations and equality of treatment;

Under the Seven Principles of Public Life he has breached the Principle of 'Leadership' as it clearly states that "Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example." Given that Mr Wilson does not promote and support the principle of 'Objectivity' he is in breach of the 'Leadership' principle.

He does not promote or support the principle of Objectivity as it clearly states that:

"In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit."

Mr Wilson has clearly indicated that appointments should not be made on merit but on the basis of where a person was born. Therefore he has not promoted and supported the principle of 'Objectivity' as is required under the principle of 'Leadership'.

Therefore it is quite clear that Mr Wilson has not upheld the Seven Principles of Public Life, which is a breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct and also a breach of the Ministerial Code's Pledge of Office.

I would ask that the Committee launch a full investigation into all of the matters that I have raised above.

I look forward to your response.

Is Mise

Daithí McKay MLA

Letter of complaint against Mr William Irwin MLA

A Chara

Re: Complaint against William Irwin

I would like to lodge a complaint against Mr William Irwin MLA.

Please find attached an article from the Belfast Telegraph dated Thursday 22nd January 2009 which discusses the prosecution of Mr Irwin for polluting a river. Environmental crime in my opinion is just as serious and reprehensible as any other crime and should be treated as such.

The discharge from Mr Irwin's farm was poisonous and "would have been potentially harmful to fish life in the receiving watercourse."

According to the MLA Handbook, Section A8 under Public Duty, it states that "Members have a duty to uphold the law and to act on all occasions in accordance with the public trust placed in them." Mr Irwin has failed to uphold the law and has been prosecuted by the Environment Agency for polluting discharge into a waterway last year.

I believe that Mr Irwin has failed to adhere to the principles identified by the committee on Standards in Public Life. He has failed to uphold the law.

In my opinion Mr Irwin has broken the Code of Conduct and I would ask that the Committee launch a full investigation into this matter.

I look forward to your response.

Is Mise

Daithí McKay MLA

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