Dublin officials’ passes queried

PACEMAKER BELFAST  04/09/2017
TUV Leader Jim Allister  speaks to the media at Stormont on Monday, The Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire is holding meetings with the five main political parties in a bid to end the deadlock at Stormont.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/09/2017 TUV Leader Jim Allister speaks to the media at Stormont on Monday, The Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire is holding meetings with the five main political parties in a bid to end the deadlock at Stormont. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

The granting of five passes with no expiry date to Dublin government officials for Parliament Buildings at Stormont to “facilitate” political negotiations is an “insight in itself” into the talks process, TUV leader Jim Allister has said.

Mr Allister has questioned why the Dublin officials should have been given “unfettered passage to Parliament Buildings” since “the governmental arrangements for Northern Ireland are a Strand 1 issue and, therefore, a matter exclusively for Her Majesty’s government and the local parties.”

The TUV leader used a mechanism whereby MLAs can lodge official written questions with Stormont departments in order to find out specific information.

The North Antrim MLA used a series of these Stormont questions to establish that not only had five passes been issued to officials from Dublin for the recent talks, the passes have no expiry date.

He said: “The Assembly Commission has admitted that these passes have no expiry date and will last till the foreign officials voluntarily surrender them.”

He continued: “The granting of such passes in perpetuity to Dublin officials is an insight in itself into the political negotiations. Previously, all such talks were held in Stormont Castle with Parliament Buildings being the preserve of Northern Ireland elected members and officials.

“Now, with the obvious complicity of all participants and the Assembly Commission, the talks have essentially transferred to Parliament Buildings with Dublin officials given the run of the place.”

Mr Allister added: “If there is any substance to the pretence that the governmental arrangements for Northern Ireland are a Strand 1 issue and, therefore, a matter exclusively for HMG and the local parties, then, why have Dublin officials been given unfettered passage to Parliament Buildings?”