A fortnight after the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister was asked who enforces the ministerial code, it still cannot say.
The lead Stormont department, which runs the Executive and has responsibilty for the code, has failed to respond to the News Letter for two weeks, despite several reminders and an article in this newspaper about its initial failure to respond.
The department was first asked about the issue in the wake of a Stormont committee inquiry finding that Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland had deliberately misled the Assembly about his meeting with a firm that has links to the DUP.
It is understood that others who have recently attempted to establish who enforces the code have also encountered difficulties.
The code incorporates t he seven principles of public life.
The ruling that Mr McCausland deliberately misled MLAs – something he denies – appeared to raise questions about whether the minister had broken the sixth principle of public life that “holders of public office should be truthful”.
Two weeks ago, the News Letter asked OFMDFM one question – who decides whether the ministerial code has been broken? A press officer phoned back to say that it may be the Assembly. However, the Assembly made clear that was not the case, as the code was an Executive matter.
The following day we reminded OFMDFM that query had not been answered, but there was no response.
We contacted the department about the issue again on Tuesday and a press officer promised to investigate but never returned our call.
Yesterday, we again asked the department about the issue but there was no response.
By last night, our call had not been returned.
It is common for OFMDFM to simply ignore media requests when Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness cannot agree on an answer.
Earlier this week it emerged that the inability of the two men to agree on an aviation charity’s event being held at the Maze Prison site meant that it simply ignored the request for almost a year, despite repeated reminders.