Northern Secretary will not get involved in Housing Executive controversy
Alliance leader says Theresa Villiers should have ordered a separate inquiry
Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers: has ruled out the British government getting directly involved in the controversy
Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers has ruled out the British government getting directly involved in the controversy over allegations that the DUP Minister for Social Development Nelson McCausland interfered in the running of the North’s Housing Executive.
While the Assembly’s social development scrutiny committee is to carry out an inquiry into the BBC Spotlight allegations the Alliance Party leader and Minister for Justice David Ford separately called on the Northern Secretary to set up an additional investigation.
Mr McCausland has resisted calls for him to step aside while an Assembly inquiry is held into allegations of interference in the workings of the Housing Executive. The DUP also used a blocking petition of concern to prevent a motion of censure being put into effect in the Assembly on Monday – even though a majority voted in favour of the motion tabled by Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the Ulster Unionist Party and Alliance.
The use of the petition of concern led to several allegations that the DUP was misusing Assembly rules and procedures to protect Mr McCausland.
The BBC programme dealt with how the housing body overpaid £18 million to four contractors. It focused on the Red Sky maintenance firm operating from east Belfast which in 2011 lost its Housing Executive contract because of alleged over-charging and faulty work.
Lisburn DUP councillor and Housing Executive board member Jenny Palmer claimed that in July 2011 Mr McCausland’s special adviser Stephen Brimstone exerted pressure on her to vote against the board’s decision not to extend the Red Sky contract. Mr Brimstone did not accept her version of events.
Mr McCausland insisted he did nothing wrong and said he had “never sought to influence the award of any contract to any particular company”.