LOBBYISTS have called on Stormont committees to be more transparent.
Lobbying is a profession which itself is often accused of a lack of openness – but now lobbyists themselves have claimed that the Assembly needs to be tougher with witnesses who come to committees but do not submit key documents beforehand.
In a letter to Assembly Speaker Willie Hay, Neil Johnston, chairman of the Northern Ireland Government Affairs Group (NIGAG), which represents lobbyists, said that chairmen of committees were being “far too tolerant” of committee witnesses who submit background papers late.
Mr Johnston, who was campaign director of the 2010 Conservative and Unionist Westminster election campaign, said that among the 200 members of his group were those with “considerable expert knowledge in their respective fields”.
He said that committees should ensure that relevant papers were available to the public on the internet 48 hours in advance of a hearing.
An Assembly spokeswoman said: “By convention, issues relating to the work of committees are for decision by the committees themselves. Neither the Speaker nor the Assembly Commission has any role in committee business, however the Speaker will ensure that the correspondence from NIGAG is forwarded for the attention of committee chairs.”