Dickson criticises DUP and Sinn Fein over SPAD Bill

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has criticised the DUP and Sinn Fein after a Bill designed to reduce the number of and salaries to special advisers (SPADs) was defeated in the Assembly.

The Bill, which aimed to cut the number of SPADs used by Ministers, while bringing in proper and remuneration for advisers, was outvoted 52-33 in the chamber today (Tuesday).

East Antrim MLA Mr Dickson said the DUP and Sinn Fein, whose MLAs voted against the Bill, had helped prevent more openness and transparency, which would further reduce public confidence in politics.

“OFMDFM in particular needs reformed, as it currently contains eight SPADs. There is clearly something broken in the system when the Department with the smallest amount of practical responsibility has so many SPADs, while other Departments only have one.

“There is no doubt openness and transparency needs increased in political life. Efficiency also needs improved, especially when we seek to make savings in many other areas. Reform of the SPAD system is an effective way to do this.

“But while the DUP and Sinn Fein continue to argue publicly over a number of issues, it appears the only thing they can agree on is to protect their ridiculous numbers of SPADs. It is no wonder people are increasingly disillusioned with the political institutions when several parties vote against something clearly in the public interest.”

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