“The Committee recommends that Mr McElduff apologises for breaching the Code”

Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff had played down his appearance in front of the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee on Standards and Privileges yesterday on Stormont Live, but by the end of today’s programme Mark Devenport had his hands on the minutes. [Dishonourably leaked? – Ed] Perhaps not. Here’s the Committee’s report which, as it notes, Mr McElduff accepted. Of particular note is the breach of the Code of Conduct about which the report upheld the complaint – “The Public Duty states that ‘Members have a duty to uphold the law and to act on all occasions in accordance with the public trust placed in them’.” That may well have implications about how people engage with the Assembly.. and, possibly, other matters..

And the Committee Report

1. The Committee on Standards and Privileges has considered a report by the Interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards into a complaint by Mr Thomas Buchanan MLA against Mr Barry McElduff MLA. The report of the Interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards and the complaint by Mr Buchanan are appended to this report.

2. The complaint referred to an article in the Strabane Chronicle on 28 August 2008 which stated that a number of post boxes in the Strabane area had been painted green as part of a campaign by Ógra Shinn Féin. In the article Mr McElduff gave his reaction to what had happened and was quoted as commending those who were involved in the campaign.

3. Mr Buchanan claimed that Mr McElduff’s comments in the newspaper article broke the Public Duty for Members as set out in ‘The Code of Conduct for Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly’. The Public Duty states that “Members have a duty to uphold the law and to act on all occasions in accordance with the public trust placed in them”.

4. The Interim Commissioner for Standards considered this complaint and advised that the deliberate defacement of property constituted vandalism. The Interim Commissioner therefore concluded that Mr McElduff’s comments were not consistent with the responsibility of Public Duty as set out in the Code.

5. The Committee agrees with the Interim Commissioner’s conclusions. The complaint is upheld and the Committee finds that Mr McElduff has failed to comply with the Code of Conduct.

6. Mr McElduff was invited to appear before the Committee and when he did so he accepted the Interim Commissioner’s report. The Committee welcomed this and Mr McElduff’s assertion to the Interim Commissioner that he does not condone vandalism.

7. The Committee recommends that Mr McElduff apologises for breaching the Code by means of a personal statement to the Assembly.

8. The Committee takes this opportunity to remind all Members about their responsibility under ‘Public Duty’ in the Assembly’s Code of Conduct.

And a reminder of what Barry McElduff had said about his appearance in front of the Committee yesterday