Political news

DUP election broadcast may have breached Stormont guidelines

A shot of the DUP's assembly team on the steps of Parliament Buildings

THE DUP could have to answer to assembly authorities for breaching rules about featuring Stormont in election material.

The assembly issued guidelines last month about what could be included in political parties' campaign videos.

The rules explicitly forbid images of Parliament Buildings.

"No election promotion material may be displayed or recorded in Parliament Buildings, or its precincts, by or on behalf of members and candidates for the purposes of electioneering," the guidance states.

"No images of Parliament Buildings are to be used for election purposes."

However, a DUP election broadcast that aired last week included several shots of Stormont.

In one, all the parties' MLAs from the last mandate were pictured on the steps of Parliament Buildings.

An assembly spokesman said MLAs were requested to comply with guidance issued on what they may or may not include in their election material.

"If members are found to be in breach of this guidance the matter will be brought to the attention of the Assembly Commission."

The spokesman declined to outline what sanctions were available to the Stormont authorities if a breach was identified.

"It will be up to the Assembly Commission to determine if any action should be taken as a result of breaching the guidance," he said.

When contacted by The Irish News, the DUP initially appeared unaware of the assembly guidelines.

"Parties from across the political spectrum have used footage of Parliament Buildings within election broadcasts or an image of Stormont somewhere within election literature," a spokesman said.

"No issue has been flagged up with us by broadcasters or any other body but we note the guidance issued from the assembly."

The prospect of any significant sanction being imposed on the DUP appears unlikely given past precedent.

During the 2015 Westminster election campaign, Ukip launched its regional manifesto inside Parliament Buildings.

Ukip representive David McNarry, who was an MLA for Strangford at the time, escaped rebuke and was merely reminded of the guidelines.

At the time, Alliance said the failure to impose a sanction "sends out the wrong signal" and could encourage others to breach the rules.

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