Dickson says tribunal decision against the Department of Regional Development has raised a lot of questions

Alliance Regional Development spokesperson Stewart Dickson says an industrial tribunal decision that found that the Department of Regional Development discriminated against an applicant for the position of chairman of NI Water, has raised a lot of questions. Conor Murphy was Minister at the time and the tribunal found that he discriminated against Alan Lennon, a Protestant. The tribunal also found that Conor Murphy consulted two Sinn Fein colleagues who were Ministers at the time, Michelle Gildernew and Caitriona Ruane over the appointment of Sean Hogan who was known to them and their party.

Stewart Dickson MLA said: “This tribunal decision has raised a lot of questions for both Conor Murphy and the Department for Regional Development as to what happened in this application process.

“Conor Murphy is no longer a Minister but there must be an investigation into whether he broke the Minister Code of Conduct as well as into the actions of his two Sinn Fein colleagues who he consulted. Questions may also be asked of what advice the permanent secretaries of his two, then, Ministerial colleagues in the Departments of Agriculture and Education, gave to Mr Murphy.

“I believe that the Head of the Civil Service would normally investigate such a serious breach of the code of practice for appointments, but that position is currently held by Dr Malcom McKibbin who was permanent secretary in the Department for Regional Development at the time. He must step aside and let somebody without any links to the case look into the matter.

“I will be asking the Clerk to the Committee for Regional Development to procure the transcript of the tribunal’s ruling and all relevant material so that we may fully scrutinise what happened. I will also be raising this issue with the Assembly Speaker when the Assembly next sits on Monday for I believe there is a role for him to play in looking into the actions of three former Ministers.

“There may even be a case for Mr Murphy to appear before the Assembly Regional Development Committee.”


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