Belfast Telegraph

MLAs 'wait for department answers'

Government departments are dragging their heels when responding to Assembly members' questions, it has been claimed.

TUV leader Jim Allister said he had been waiting almost nine months for answers to questions about the sale of Northern Ireland's property debt portfolio.

He said: "Despite those questions being raised almost nine months ago, despite the importance of the topic, they still go unanswered."

Last year Nama (National Asset Management Agency), the Republic's so-called bad bank, sold the entire Northern Ireland loan portfolio to an international investment firm.

In the deal billed as "excellent" for the local economy, New York based Cerberus Capital Management paid more than £1 billion for a string of offices, shopping centres, pubs and hotels.

Nine months ago Mr Allister submitted two written questions to the Department of Finance and Personnel requesting details about the sale.

But, the North Antrim MLA is still awaiting answers.

"It really is a frustration for members," he added. "This is but an example, I think, of the continuance of departments to fail to address their responsibilities in respect of answering questions."

Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin said he hoped Executive ministers would take note of the complaint.

The Sinn Fin MLA said: "I have considerable sympathy with members who find themselves in a similar predicament where they are pursuing legitimate issues and have a legitimate expectation that their questions will be responded to.

"However, it is not something that comes directly under the authority of the Speaker's remit. I hope that Executive ministers will take note."


From Belfast Telegraph