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Life peerage for NIO adviser Jonathan Caine criticised by former SDLP deputy leader

Jonathan Caine has served under six Tory secretaries of state 
Staff Reporter

THERE has been criticism of David Cameron's decision to give a peerage to a long-standing Northern Ireland Office (NIO) adviser.

Jonathan Caine, who has been special adviser to six Tory secretaries of state, was made a life peer in the former prime minister's controversial resignation honours list.

Leeds-born Mr Caine previously served under Tom King, Peter Brooke, Sir Patrick Mayhew, Owen Paterson and Theresa Villiers.

He remains at the NIO supporting newly appointed Secretary of State James Brokenshire.

Former Ulster Unionist leader and fellow peer Lord Reg Empey defended the prime minister's award.

Lord Empey said he knew Mr Caine and respected his contribution to Northern Ireland.

"He is very well-versed, he's a good solid unionist, he believes in unionism very strongly and I think it will be a great help to have him on the benches [of the House of Lords]," he told the News Letter.

"While I am very fully aware of the controversy surrounding some of the appointments, his is one that I think can be justified on the grounds of a long-term commitment."

But former SDLP deputy leader Patsy McGlone said he had never heard of Mr Caine.

"I have absolutely no idea who this fella is, which is an illustration of how much interest he and the NIO gives to nationalist views," the Mid Ulster MLA said.

"However, my objection to this award isn't personal - I don't believe in the gongs system as more often than not it sees people rewarded for doing a job they are already well paid for."

Mr McGlone's comments came as Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith said party donors, MPs and advisers and should face a five-year ban on receiving honours.

Mr Smith challenged other parties to follow his lead in what he said was a first step towards an honours system that would "reward selfless acts, not political and personal patronage".

If applied across politics, the rule would have blocked eight out of 10 of the names on David Cameron's controversial resignation honours list, including Mr Caine.

The Pontypridd MP denounced Mr Cameron's list - which included many Downing Street staffers and Conservative donors - as "blatant cronyism".

And he accused Mr Cameron's successor Theresa May of turning a blind eye" to a situation which he said had deepened distrust in politics.

He pledged to bring an end to the "era of political cronyism once and for all" and introduce fundamental reform to the political honours system if elected to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader on September 24.

The five-year honours ban would stay in place until a total overhaul of the system was complete, he said.

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