Sinn Féin accused of “cynical stunt” following calls to tighten government lobbying rules


Sinn Fein has been accused of a “cynical stunt” over calls to tighten the Irish government’s lobbying rules while “acting completely opposite” in Northern Ireland.

In the Republic, the party tables a bill aimed at further restricting former ministers and special advisers from lobbying to the government.

Sinn Féin wishes to extend the cooling-off period from one year to two years.

Ministerial codes in England, Scotland and Wales also prohibit former ministers from lobbying the government for two years.

But in Northern Ireland in Stormont, such rules do not exist.

In April, the executive office of the prime minister and deputy prime minister told Belfast Live that “guidelines” for former ministers were “under development”.

Stormont’s Sinn Féin-led finance ministry, which would oversee government transparency issues, including the ministerial code, referred all matters to the executive office.

Sinn Féin TD Mairead Farrell claimed that public confidence in the political life of the Republic had “eroded”.

Speaking on the party’s bill, she added: “I think it is high time that we said that we will end the revolving door between government and special interests and the whole idea of ​​lobbying. . “

Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd called the bill a “cynical coup.”

“Once again the credibility of Sinn Féin is in tatters. They have been in government in the north for the past few years and have made no attempt to toughen the lobbying rules,” he said.

“The Sinn Féin bill is nothing more than a cynical stunt to score points. Sinn Féin is not interested in the rights and wrongs of lobbying.

“Their complete lack of engagement on the subject in the north, where they can make changes, is concrete proof of this.”

A source from Fianna Fáil accused Sinn Féin of being a “great party for the sharing of their beliefs”.

Stormont’s party, the TUV, said it was no surprise that Sinn Féin sought to “market itself as a party determined to reform government” in the Republic “while acting in a completely opposite manner” to the government. within the Stormont executive.

A party spokesperson said: “They have opposed Jim Allister’s private member’s bill at every step which has brought greater openness and transparency to Stormont.

“As so often with this holiday, it seems to be a case of doing what I say, not doing what I do.”

The Sinn Féin bill follows controversy surrounding the appointment of a former Irish government minister as UN special envoy.

The party filed a motion of censure against Foreign Minister Simon Coveney over his role in the nomination of Katherine Zappone, accusing the government of a “crony culture”.

Mr. Coveney, who survived the Dáil vote by 92 to 59, regretted his handling of the “avoidable controversy”.

Fine Gael TD insisted that the nomination, which Ms Zappone later declined amid the uproar, was “in no way corrupt or dishonest”.

Stormont’s executive office did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

However, in April, a spokesperson said: “Guidance for former ministers considering taking a post after their tenure is being developed as part of an ongoing review of the procedures.

“Former ministers in this situation would be invited to consult with the head of the civil service as secretary to the executive and advice would be provided where appropriate, taking into account practice in other jurisdictions.”

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