No fresh start to Executive communications

Alliance MLA Naomi Long has said that the process used to appoint an Executive Press Secretary shows the fresh start does not apply to openness and transparency.

Naomi Long said: “This latest revelation, reluctantly confirmed by The First and Deputy First Ministers, that they used prerogative powers to get the person they wanted for this job, shows there is no fresh start when it comes to communicating how they operate.

“I recently called for openness and transparency in public appointments to counter claims of cronyism. Now, the First and Deputy First Ministers have used authority delegated from the Queen to make this appointment without having to consult MLAs or the Civil Service Commissioners. This is a worrying development.

“Clearly government has a duty to communicate its plans, priorities and performance to citizens. There is already an Executive Information Service in place headed by a Director of Communications. A key aspect of that role is to challenge Ministers who may wish to use government communications to push party political messages. Will that challenge function now be lost as the big two parties choose what to tell the public about their activities?

“No matter how they dress it up, this is an appointment to be funded by public money. Therefore the public, and their representatives, expect the highest standards to be observed.”

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