07/11/2018

Sinn Fein Used Deputy First Minister's Office Despite Stormont Collapse

Sinn Fein continued to use the office of the deputy First Minister at Stormont despite the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive, it has emerged.

Responding to a question by Ulster Unionist MLA Alan Chambers, the Assembly Commission said it has removed any access to the First and deputy First Minister's offices in the Parliament Building held by their previous occupants, DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O'Neill.

The commission said in a statement: "Having been made aware that some of the rooms continued to be used at a time when there is no First Minister and deputy First Minister in post and, following confirmation from the Executive Office that it has no current requirement for them, the Assembly Commission has moved to retain control of the rooms."

Mr Chambers said Sinn Fein's use of the office was drawn to his attention, despite the fact that they "walked away from the institutions in January 2017".
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"Given the extensive facilities already accessible to Michelle O'Neill and her party, and the fact that they continue to boycott a return to Stormont, I didn't think it was right that they were allowed to continue to use the trappings of power whilst abdicating their responsibilities."

The UUP MLA for North Down explained that for these reasons, he notified the Assembly Commission about the situation, who have acted to "halt this abuse of position".

East Antrim DUP MLA and the Party's Chief Whip Gordon Lyons said: "The party does not have a key to the First Minister's office in Parliament Buildings.

"Prior to devolution collapsing, access to this office was controlled by the Executive Office and the Assembly authorities. The party leader works from our offices on the second floor of the building."

The Stormont Executive collapsed in January 2017 and all negotiating efforts aimed at a return to power-sharing have been unsuccessful.





(JG/CM)

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