Northern Ireland

Douglas Bain: Public is losing confidence in Stormont complaints process

Stormont

The commissioner who investigates complaints against MLAs believes the public is losing confidence in the Stormont complaints system.

In his annual report, Douglas Bain is recommending changes to the way complaints are handled.

These include the appointment of members of the public to the assembly committee which decides whether MLAs have broken the Stormont rules.

Last year, Mr Bain received just 14 complaints about MLAs' behaviour.

Image caption Douglas Bain is recommending changes to the way complaints are handled

That was down dramatically from 53 the previous year.

He is suggesting MLAs should end what he calls their current "party political approach".

He wants a ban on the use of assembly vetoes - or Petitions of Concern - to stop politicians being punished for breaking the rules.

Such a petition was used to prevent any sanction against the Democratic Unionist Party's Sammy Wilson last year.

Mr Bain also wants Stormont to follow the example of Westminster, where seven members of the public sit alongside seven MPs on the committee charged with maintaining parliamentary standards.

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