DSD 'obstructing' committee's work

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A Stormont department was obstructing the work of the Social Development Committee in relation to its inquiry into allegations arising from a BBC NI Spotlight programme, its chairman said on 13 February 2014.

The programme alleged there had been political interference in the running of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE).

The inquiry had been examining whether or not there was any impropriety or irregularity relating to NIHE-managed contracts.

Alex Maskey said members had been advised that papers from the second phase of the inquiry would be provided from the Department for Social Development (DSD) to the committee by its requested date of 28 February.

The chairman, however, said the committee was still waiting for DSD to provide information in respect of the first phase.

"I want to record my deep frustration, " Mr Maskey said.

"I consider this to be an obstruction of this committee's ability to do its work.

"We have been unable to conduct this inquiry in a more expeditious time frame on the basis of not receiving documentation on time from that department.

"It's totally and utterly unacceptable".

Members agreed with suggestions from the TUV's Jim Allister and the SDLP's Dolores Kelly that a press release would be written to alert the public of the delay and the matter would be raised with the head of the civil service and the Assembly speaker.

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