Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 4 May 2016

Ombudsman finding over John O'Dowd correspondence delay revealing insight into how Sinn Fein operate

By Samuel Morrison

Published 06/02/2014

John O'Dowd's Department of Education took 57 days to reply to TUV leader Jim Allister
John O'Dowd's Department of Education took 57 days to reply to TUV leader Jim Allister

The findings of the Northern Ireland Ombudsman, Tom Frawley, that the Sinn Fein run Department of Education acted in an "unacceptable" fashion in how it dealt with correspondence from TUV leader Jim Allister was a revealing insight into how Sinn Fein operate.

The TUV leader complained to Mr Frawley after the Department of Education took 57 working days to reply to one letter from him and 23 working days to reply to another. In both of the replies he eventually received the Minister said the delay in responding was because it was not addressed to the Minister.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that TUV regards Sinn Fein as unfit for government. When the people of North Antrim elected Jim Allister to represent them they were aware of his anti-Sinn Fein stance. TUV does not meet Sinn Fein Ministers nor do we write to them. When Jim needs to do business with a department with a Sinn Fein Minister he writes to the Permanent Secretary.

It is not for the Minister to dictate to whom an MLA writes and if  the Minister insists on replying he cannot discriminate on the basis of political opinion by sitting on replies for weeks on end.

In his report into the issue the Ombudsman found that the way in which the Department treated Jim’s letters "constitutes maladministration" and that: "Mr Allister, as a member of the public, and as an elected representative, was entitled to expect a reasonable level of service from the Department. It is clear that in the instances highlighted in this report, the Department failed to meet its stated service standards."

Mr Frawley recommends that the Department provide a written apology to the TUV leader - something which the Department is arrogantly refusing to do.

In 2012, Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy refused to apologise after an employment tribunal ruled that he discriminated against a Protestant when appointing the chair of NI Water.

There was no apology for the hurt and offence caused when Mary McArdle, the murderer of a 22-year-old school teacher Mary Travers - shot in the back as she left Mass - was gifted the post of Special Adviser to the Culture Minister.

There has never been any republican apology for repeatedly bombing Castlederg rather Sinn Fein held a parade to celebrate bombers in the village.

Mr Frawley’s independent report has reminded us that Sinn Fein don’t really do apologies even when they are proved to be in the wrong.

Furthermore, for all their grand talk about "equality", some republicans are quite prepared to discriminate against someone on the basis of their political opinion.


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