DUP minister Nelson McCausland has to quit, insist fellow unionists
Unionists have insisted DUP minister Nelson McCausland should consider resigning after a Stormont committee found he had intentionally misled MLAs.
Mr McCausland has dismissed the conclusions of the committee that monitors his department as "flawed" and "one-sided" following revelations in a TV programme broadcast more than a year ago.
The Social Development Minister accepted he "inadvertently (and) unintentionally misinformed" MLAs in claiming he held a meeting with representatives of the Glass and Glazing Federation when in fact it was with the Co Armagh glazing firm Turkington, which has been a donor to the DUP.
The committee concluded: "... the determined efforts that the minister and his special adviser (Stephen Brimstone) made to remove Turkington from the record would suggest that it was neither unintentional nor inadvertent."
Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister, who sits on the committee, said Mr McCausland's evidence and his credibility were "shot through" – and that he should go.
"In any credible democracy a minister found guilty of deliberately misleading his scrutiny committee would be packing his bags. But this is Stormont, where anything goes," Mr Allister added.
"The determined efforts which Mr McCausland and his special adviser made to cover up that the meeting was with Turkington was compelling evidence in itself that his misleading of the committee was deliberate and not 'inadvertent' as he eventually claimed.
"Altering minutes, repudiating advice from everyone else at the meeting and changing Assembly answers all point to a determined course of action to lay a false trail.
"The issue is why the minister felt it necessary to pretend he had met someone other than a DUP-supporting company in the events leading to contract changes."
Ulster Unionist Party committee member Michael Copeland also said Mr McCausland should consider his position.
"Disappointingly, despite being faced with the facts, the DUP members of the committee defended their man and insisted on issuing a minority report."
He said Mr McCausland's comments "aren't credible and don't stand up to scrutiny". Mr McCausland's department and his party said they had nothing to add to his earlier defence, in which he dismissed the committee inquiry as a "witch-hunt".