Nelson McCausland misled Assembly over a meeting which had no apparent or measurable effect…

Getting accused of ‘misleading the Assembly’ is problematic for any minister. So it is for Nelson McCausland in the majority report of his department’s oversight committee. The minority report (composed entirely of MLAs of his own party) takes his view that he had merely ‘inadvertently misinformed’ them.

The committee chair, Sinn Fein’s Alex Maskey laid out the case in the majority report…

“Nelson McCausland claimed in a letter to MLAs on the committee that he has met representatives of the Glass and Glazing Federation when in fact he was actually met with representatives of an individual company,” he said.

“A senior civil servant was then told to change the record of that meeting in the letter to the committee to back up the minister’s claim.

“All parties with the exception of the DUP took the view, based on the extensive evidence in the report, that the minister deliberately misled the committee.

“Not only was the committee misled but there was a concerted effort to change the record of the meeting.”

The individual company was Turkingtons, and was the subject of a Spotlight documentary this time last year. What’s interesting though is that this is the single most serious accusation contained within either report.

That is it appears that this meeting appears to have had no discernable effect: ie, no one was sacked, or resigned, and no contracts properly or improperly awarded. Just an error or a misjudgement, whether it was inadvertent or through haste or intemperance (as in the case of how the DUP Lisburn councillor Jenny Palmer was dealt with).

If such incompetence were really a bar to office, an awful lot of Ministers would be in seriously hot water by now… Heaven forfend the committee might find time to take the Minister to task for his actual performance on housing policy…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

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