Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Ann's Law a huge win - Allister

Jim Allister says legislation barring anyone with a serious criminal conviction from a top job at Stormont was one of the major victories of the year

The passing of legislation barring anyone with a serious criminal conviction from holding a top job at Stormont was one of the major victories of the year, Jim Allister has claimed.

The Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) leader described Ann's Law, which was given royal assent in July, as a big win for the thousands of victims of Northern Ireland's Troubles.

"The passage of Ann's Law was a huge win for innocent victims and the first significant political defeat for Sinn Fein since the Belfast Agreement," he told his party's annual conference.

The Civil Service Special Advisers (Spad) Bill prevents ex-prisoners who were jailed for five years or more from becoming highly paid political advisers to Stormont and was brought forward after former IRA prisoner Mary McArdle was appointed as adviser to Sinn Fein Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin three years ago.

Mr Allister's speech to conference delegates in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, was also likely to include a swipe at political opponents over the building of the controversial peace centre at the site of the former paramilitary prison at the Maze in Co Antrim.

The MLA for North Antrim said: "Our party has also been consistent in its opposition to the Maze shrine and after years of campaigning on the issue we were instrumental in forcing a monumental U-turn by those who a few weeks previously had been branding those opposed to their plans as 'nutters' who needed to be taken away by men in white coats."

Mr Allister claimed the TUV's support for the controversial loyalist flag protests, which brought parts of Northern Ireland to a standstill earlier this year, had prompted a growth in support and he was looking forward to next year's elections.

He added: "Likewise our demand for the basic democratic rights of being permitted an opposition and voting a party out of government become more unanswerable with every passing day of failure by the Executive at Stormont.

"We look forward to the elections in the incoming year confident that our message of standing up for victims and against the republican agenda will resonate with the voter."

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