UUP leader sets out plan for ‘clean up’ at Stormont

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt

The Ulster Unionist Party has laid out a five-point plan to “clean up” Stormont and “restore public confidence” in the power-sharing institutions.

Leader Mike Nesbitt said the DUP and Sinn Fein Executive had dragged the reputation of the Assembly “from the gutter to the sewer”.

Proposals brought forward by the party include making Stormont special advisers subject to civil service disciplinary process, as well as having their salaries capped.

The UUP also wants to ensure Executive Ministers are made accountable.

Mr Nesbitt said: “We would legislate to expand the Assembly commissioner for standards remit to allow alleged breaches of the ministerial code to be reported and investigated.”

The party has also called for any future Speaker of the Assembly to be elected through a secret ballot of MLAs.

“The election of the Speaker can no longer be subject to a carve-up between the two largest parties,” Mr Nesbitt added.

Meanwhile, Mr Nesbitt wants Executive Ministers to be “effectively scrutinised”, stating: “We want to strengthen the role of Assembly Committees, making effective, detailed scrutiny a statutory duty.”

He added: “We must put an end to the abuse of petitions of concern, which were designed specifically to protect minority interests, not political parties.”

The UUP leader concluded: “The time is right to introduce transparency in political donations. The public want openness at the heart of government. We have written to the Secretary of State proposing that records of donations to political parties are published from the start of the 2017/2018 financial year.”