Alliance submits questions regarding Press Secretary appointment process

Alliance MLAs have submitted a series of urgent questions probing the process used to appoint the Executive’s new Press Secretary.

The move came after the First and deputy First Minster appointed former Nolan Show editor David Gordon last week to a new role, created by amending using a legal procedure known as a Royal Prerogative, avoiding both the job being advertised and the change in the law coming to the Assembly for scrutiny.

Alliance’s questions include whether the new role of Press Secretary has power to direct any civil servants or special advisors, whether he is bound by the code of conduct for civil servants or for special advisors, and to detail all decisions made by the First Minister and deputy First Minister under the Royal Prerogative method.

Alliance Executive Office spokesperson Stewart Dickson said the move, which only came to light following media questioning, was the latest in a series of attempts by the Executive to avoid scrutiny of their actions.

“The Executive appointing a Press Secretary in itself is not the issue which is causing public concern but rather the secretive method by which the post was created and the law changed. This is especially true as it comes in the wake of ‘cronyism’ allegations regarding public appointments in Northern Ireland.

“By being less than transparent on this matter, the Executive undermines not only itself but challenges the credibility of all those involved in public life. There remain questions which need answered immediately to help combat the drip feed of information coming from the Executive on this matter. Tetchy and ill-tempered rants against MLAs who are doing the job they are elected to do in holding them to account is neither fitting of the office they hold, nor respectful of the public who deserve the highest standards in public life.

“The public deserves full transparency and full accountability. With respect to this matter, the Executive has failed miserably on both counts so far.”

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