Former hunger striker says SF will stop Allister’s special adviser move
FORMER IRA hunger striker Raymond McCartney says Sinn Féin will not allow Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) MLA Jim Allister bar republican ex-prisoners from positions in the Assembly with his Special Advisers Bill.
Mr McCartney said Sinn Féin are ‘totally opposed’ to the North Antrim MLA’s bill.
The Sinn Féin Vice-Chair of the Assembly Justice Committee, Raymond McCartney MLA said: “The tabling of this bill by Jim Allister is motivated purely by his irrational animosity towards republicans.
“It is designed to debar Republican former Prisoners from holding positions such as Ministerial Special Advisors in the Assembly. Sinn Féin will not allow this to happen.
“Not only is his proposed exclusion Bill contrary to the Good Friday Agreement but I believe that it is also counter to Human Rights Legislation. Jim Allister and other anti-Good Friday Agreement elements will have to accept that the days when unionists could discriminate against republicans/nationalists with impunity are gone and are not coming back.”
Speaking about the Bill earlier this year Mr Allister said: “Special Advisers, of which they are 19, are publicly paid political appointees who rank as senior civil servants, but are neither appointed on merit through open competition, nor are they subject to the basic security vetting applicable to all other civil servants. “This scenario gave rise to the monstrous appointment by Sinn Féin of convicted murderer, Mary McArdle; at least one other convicted person still holds such an office.
“The McArdle appointment rightly provoked a public outcry and this Bill is a response to that, so that never again might public money be used to make such an appointment.”
He says the Bill will prohibit anyone who has a serious criminal conviction, defined as involving a 5 year sentence, from holding the post of Special Adviser.
It will put Department of Finance and Personnel (DfP) guidance on the appointment process on a statutory footing and enshrine the requirement for the same level of security vetting as applies to senior civil servants;
It will put the present DFP Code of Conduct for Special Advisers on a statutory basis.
It will introduce, as at Westminster, the requirement for an annual report on the numbers and cost of Special Advisers.
It will remove the anomaly of the Speaker still having the power to appoint a Special Adviser since he now enjoys the services of an adviser appointed through due process by the Assembly Commission - this could be important if Sinn Féin takes over the Speaker’s role.
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