Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Allister hits out at DUP over website

The DUP has been accused of blurring the line between Government and party politics after running Executive announcements on its own website.

Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister said departmental permanent secretaries should be insisting on a stop to the ministerial “abuse”.

But the DUP’s Simon Hamilton said scouring the internet to see which statements appeared where had reduced Mr Allister to “a wally”.

DUP ministers’ decisions — including Finance Minister Sammy Wilson’s rates deferment for pensioners and Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster and Culture Minister Nelson McCausland confirming that the HBO the series, Game Of Thrones, will be filmed in Northern Ireland — feature on the party website, with photographs.

But they are written by civil servants working for the Executive Information Service.

The ‘notes for editors’ section — background information to the Press release — is called ‘notes for readers’ and the numbers for media contacts have been dropped.

Mr Allister said: “It seems to me that this increasing practice of topping and tailing departmental statements, written by departmental Press officers, and putting them out as party statements is an abuse.

But Mr Hamilton said: “Jim Allister has nothing to say on the issues that actually matter to ordinary people in Northern Ireland. He wants to take us back to direct rule.

“At a time when DUP ministers are working to attract jobs and investment to Northern Ireland, what is Jim Allister doing? Scouring websites to see whose statement appears where? What a wally.”

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