‘Special advisers bill must be rigorously scrutinised’ – Bradley

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Friday, September 28th, 2012
SDLP Finance and Personnel Spokesperson Dominic Bradley has said that the SDLP’s decision to permit the passage of the Civil Service (Special Advisers) Bill to committee stage is purely a means of creating space for victims to have their say on the issue and is not indicative of guaranteed party support for the rest of its passage. Speaking after the Second Stage debate in the Assembly this week, the Newry and Armagh MLA said: “The SDLP believes that victims of our troubled past have the right to be protected from further trauma in their lives. “Anne Travers has spoken with quiet dignity and great eloquence of the pain and hurt revisited on her and her family through the appointment of Mary McArdle to the post of special adviser to Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Carál Ní Chuilín and we can understand well her despair at that appointment.” Bradley continued, “It was with her and all victims in mind that the SDLP decided to permit the passage of the Special Advisers Bill through to committee stage. That does not mean that the Bill can expect our support for the rest of its passage. “The committee stage of a Bill allows for full, thorough, intensely detailed and highly rigorous scrutiny of every word of the Bill’s text and we look forward to engaging in that scrutiny with an open mind.” “If the Bill opens up possible legal challenges, or we feel the spirit of its text is open to abuse, we cannot and will not be offering further support for it. The issue of regulating the appointment of Special Advisers is a very serious one which must not be entered into lightly, given the very particular status of Special Advisers in our governmental system.” He added, “Our decision was about creating space for victims to have their say. Therefore we will be proceeding carefully into committee with the needs of victims, supported by good government, at the front of our minds.”
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