Jim Allister has welcomed a report by the Northern Ireland Ombudsman Tom Frawley which described the Department of Education’s handling of correspondence from the TUV leader as “unacceptable” and recommended that the Department provide a written apology to Mr Allister – something the Department arrogantly rejects.
Commenting Mr Allister said:
“It has long been my political opinion and belief that Sinn Fein, given its IRA terrorist antecedents and stance, is unfit for government. My anti-Sinn Fein stance is a recognised part of my political reason d’etre and central to my mandate. In consequence of this political opinion I decline to meet Sinn Fein ministers and do not write to them. When I have business to transact with a department headed by a Sinn Fein minister I write to the Permanent Secretary. This has been my consistent practice since 2007, first as an MEP and latterly as an MLA.
“I lodged an official complaint with the Northern Ireland Ombudsman after the Department of Education took 57 working days to reply to one letter from myself and 23 working days to reply to another.
“In both of the replies I eventually received the Minister said that there was a delay in responding to my correspondence because it was not addressed to the Minister.
“I complained to Mr Frawley on the basis that it is not for the Minister to dictate to whom I write and I am more than happy to receive responses from the person to whom my letters are addressed. However, if the Minister insists on replying then he cannot discriminate on the basis of my political opinion, which causes me to decline to write to him in the first place.
“The letters in question related to constituency matters.
“Mr Frawley states:
“I have concluded that the Department’s failure to provide timely responses to Mr Allister’scorrespondence constitutes maladministration. I am satisfied that this caused Mr Allister to sustain an injustice by way of disappointment and frustration at having to wait an unacceptable length of time for a response to his representations and not being able to advise his constituents of the Department’s position on the matters they had raised as quickly as he would have wanted. In my view, it is of no significance that, as the Department indicated in its reply to the statutory questionnaire, the outcome of Mr Allister’s representations on behalf of his constituents, would have been no different even if the Department’s responses had been provided sooner. Mr Allister, as a member of the public, and as an elected representative, was entitled to expect a reasonable level of service from the Department. It is clear that in the instances highlighted in this report, the Department failed to meet its stated service standards.”
“Mr Frawley recommends that the Department provide a written apology, something which the Department is arrogantly refusing to do.
“I welcome the Ombudsman’s report and the fact that he has recommended an apology to me, which, of course, would also be an apology to my constituents whom he sought to disadvantage. His findings completely vindicate my position and expose the vindictive arrogance of the Sinn Fein Minister.”