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Stormont Committee seeks answers over spin doctor Gordon

By Noel McAdam

Published 22/09/2016

David Gordon
David Gordon

A Stormont committee is to ask the First Minister and Deputy First Minister if the current Stormont director of Communications, Stephen Grimason, is to be replaced.

A letter yet to be drawn up will also seek details about the role of the new Executive Press Secretary, David Gordon, whose appointment last week has sparked controversy.

At its regular weekly meeting yesterday the committee which monitors the Executive made no decision. However, it invited the 55-year-old editor of the BBC NI Stephen Nolan show to appear before it. The DUP's Christopher Stalford and Sinn Fein's Sean Lynch argued there was no immediate need for Mr Gordon - who does not start in the post until next month - to come to the committee.

Mr Lynch said the appointment for which Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness used a royal prerogative to avoid having to advertise it was "legal and above board" and there was no need for the committee to take any view.

Mr Stalford said: "In the course of the last few days there has been enough hurly burly (over the Gordon appointment).

"The man has been dragged through every newspaper in the country and people have had their pound of flesh and should let the man get on with his role."

But chairman Mike Nesbitt of the UUP warned: "This could set a precedent that could come back to haunt us and there is a danger that the public could see us as rollovers and irrelevant."

And afterwards deputy chairman Danny Kennedy, also UUP, added: "It was immediately clear that some members were going to roll over and simply accept the will of their political masters.

"This is a dangerous precedent for the committee to set and entirely contrary to our primary statutory duty of advising ministers. They are also doing Mr Gordon a grave disservice. Given how he finds himself at the centre of a storm that shows little sign of dissipating, it would be better to do everything we can, even at this late stage, to introduce some clarity, openness and transparency to proceedings."

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