Also on Stormont Today, BBC NI’s Jim Fitzpatrick had some fun with his newly acquired, thanks to his fellow basement dweller, press [pass] freedom and went on a quick tour of the Assembly building. [Will there still be “stupid” questions? – Ed] Probably.. Apparently, along with a new code of conduct for MLAs, it’s part of the NI Assembly’s public outreach programme.. Adds Jim’s fellow basement dweller notes an interesting point – Brian Wilson argued that the clause had the potential to open “a can of worms”.
That interesting point in full
One aspect of the new code which should prove interesting is the section which deals with the expression of political opinions. The Standards Committee says “Members are entitled to legally express any political opinion that they may hold. In doing so, however, Members should have regard to the Principles of Conduct and should not express opinions in a manner that is manifestly in conflict with the Principles of Conduct.”
Since those principles will now include four new ones related to “Respect; Equality; Promoting Good Relations; and Good Working Relationships”, Committee members believe that any racist or homophobic remarks would fall foul of the rules. This applies to remarks uttered outside the chamber, not within it. There could be some interesting test cases, and one MLA the Greens Brian Wilson argued that the clause had the potential to open “a can of worms”.