Stormont civil servants ‘should keep using ministerial cars’

NIPSA's Bumper Graham (centre) with a union members protesting, outside the Housing Executive  Belfast Office at the proposed 450 Housing Executive jobs which will go over the next 3 years, union members are  threatening strike action.
Picture by Brian Little  26/3/08
NIPSA's Bumper Graham (centre) with a union members protesting, outside the Housing Executive Belfast Office at the proposed 450 Housing Executive jobs which will go over the next 3 years, union members are threatening strike action. Picture by Brian Little 26/3/08

Stormont departments should continue to make use of ministerial cars and drivers in the absence of an Executive, it has been claimed.

Bumper Graham from the trade union NIPSA has defended the decision to continue using the vehicles to transport senior civil servants on official business, stating that the official government cars are “not for the sole use of ministers”.

In a heated discussion on the Nolan Show yesterday, Mr Graham claimed it was “gross hypocrisy for MLAs to attack civil service workers when they are the ones letting the whole of Northern Ireland down”.

He added: “The fault lies with the 90 MLAs who continue to draw their full salaries while only doing a very small part of the work they are paid for.”

Mr Graham also warned that drivers of these cars “should not be made scapegoats” for the “failings” of MLAs.

When quizzed by presenter Chris Buckler why he was defending the use of these cars while departments are under increasing financial pressures, Mr Graham replied: “Are you saying the drivers should have been laid off?

“It is best to make use of them. Otherwise you would have sacked the drivers, and they would have been the ones who paid the price for the political inertia that is a responsibility of the elected MLAs.”

SDLP MLA Colin McGrath told the Nolan Show that the drivers should be redeployed into other roles “rather than being used as some form of taxi service for civil servants”.

He also said he would be prepared to hand back a portion of his salary as an MLA, adding: “I am not getting access to do the full range of work that an MLA does and I don’t think I should be paid fully for that.”