21/09/2021

New Legislation To Ban Public Appointment Of Those With Serious Convictions

The Executive is set to debate new legislation that would prohibit anyone with a serious criminal conviction from holding public office.

The Political Appointments Bill has been proposed by TUV leader Jim Allister and come before the Assembly for its major second stage debate.

Mr Allister said: "This week (Tuesday) my further Private Member's Bill, the Political Appointments Bill, will come before the Assembly for its major second stage debate.

"The Bill – very much modelled on my Special Advisers Act passed in 2013 – would prohibit anyone with a serious criminal conviction (defined as a conviction resulting in a sentence of 5 years or more) from being appointed as a political member to the Policing Board or the Education Authority, or continuing to hold such office.
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"Within the membership of both the Policing Board and the Education Authority are a coterie of members appointed directly by the political parties – members who are exempt from the regular processes governing public appointments. In consequence convicted terrorists Gerry Kelly and Paul Kavanagh sit on the Policing Board and Education Authority, respectively, as nominees of Sinn Fein.

"My Bill, if passed, would remove them from these offices.

"The controversy surrounding the appointment of Kavanagh – the Chelsea Barracks bomber who was removed as a SpAd in consequence of my 2013 Act – and the inability by the then Education Minister to get remedial legislation through the Executive, was the catalyst for this attempt to right the wrong of a man, whom the sentencing judge described as showing not a shred of compassion for his victims, shaping educational provision in Northern Ireland. Equally, the spectacle of Gerry Kelly lording it over the PSNI on the Policing Board needs to be brought to an end.

"My Bill will lance these boils.

"The Political Appointments Bill is shaped by a moral compass and respects victims, which makes for good law.

"I therefore look forward to MLAs deciding where they stand on this important issue."

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