MLAs to debate BBC NI Spotlight allegations over DUP Minister Nelson McCausland

MLAs to debate BBC NI Spotlight allegations over DUP Minister Nelson McCausland

A special sitting of the Northern Ireland Assembly is being held at Stormont on Monday to allow MLAs to discuss allegations made in a BBC NI Spotlight programme.

MLAs have set aside two hours and 15 minutes to debate the allegations.

A cross party motion has been agreed along with two amendments, one from the DUP and one from TUV leader Jim Allister.

The programme alleged there had been political interference in the running of the Housing Executive.

Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland denies the allegations.

The Social Development Committee at Stormont has agreed to set up an inquiry.

The assembly was recalled after a number of parties said they wanted to discuss the issue.

The programme contained an interview with DUP councillor and Housing Executive board member, Jenny Palmer, who said she was put under pressure by her party to change her vote at a Housing Executive board meeting.

Mr McCausland, who is also a member of the DUP, denied that his special adviser, Stephen Brimstone, had telephoned Ms Palmer at his request.

He said it was likely no-one would ever get to the bottom of the matter.

Assembly First Minister Peter Robinson said the best way ahead was to allow the Social Development Committee to carry out an investigation that he hoped would be “more balanced than the Spotlight report”.

The DUP leader said he would be prepared to talk to Ms Palmer and Mr Brimstone if they wanted to speak to him.

The DUP has introduced a ‘Petition of Concern’ blocking mechanism which means any move to censure Mr McCausland is doomed to failure.

That move has been condemned by other parties in the assembly.

Mr McCausland has said he has no intention of standing down and would not step aside as social development minister during the inquiry.

He denies he had ever sought to influence the awarding of contracts.

The minister told the BBC NI’s The View on Thursday that he had been vindicated “time and time again”.


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