Northern Ireland

DUP set to block Nelson McCausland assembly motion

Nelson McCausland Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption A motion on Nelson McCausland is to be debated on Monday

DUP assembly members have signed a petition of concern enabling them to block a motion concerning their minister Nelson McCausland.

The motion is due for debate on Monday.

It notes the first part of the Social Development Committee's investigation into allegations broadcast on a BBC Spotlight programme in July last year.

The committee has split its examination of the allegations about housing maintenance contracts broadcast by Spotlight into three parts.

In its first report published in July, a majority of assembly members concluded that Mr McCausland had deliberately misled them over a letter regarding a meeting he had had with a double glazing firm.

However, Mr McCausland's DUP colleagues did not agree.

They accused his critics of engaging in a political witch-hunt and put out their own minority report.

The motion due for debate on Monday notes the committee's report and by using a petition of concern, the DUP can block any vote that they feel might be seen as undermining their minister.

Sinn Féin MLA Mickey Brady said that the DUP's decision to issue a petition of concern to stop the vote was "absolute nonsense".

"Monday's debate is simply to note the report on allegations raised in a BBC Spotlight programme on the awarding of Housing Executive contracts," he said.

"The use of a petition of concern by the DUP is incredulous and is an absolute nonsense.

"In this instance the use of a petition of concern smacks of desperation. It will have no affect whatsoever other than to draw more attention to the debate.

"Regardless of the DUP attempts to affect the voting on this motion, the Assembly will hear the debate, it will be televised and it will be recorded into the minutes by Hansard.

"This only adds to the DUP's track record of using petitions of concern for narrow party political interests.

"The only conclusion that will be drawn by the public is that the DUP may have something to hide by blocking the Assembly voting on this motion."

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