Northern Ireland news

Nichola Mallon and Naomi Long complain of learning of executive agenda from media and lobbyists

Infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon. Picture by Peter Morrison/PA
Brendan Hughes

STORMONT ministers Nichola Mallon and Naomi Long have voiced their frustration at learning of the executive's meeting agenda from the media and lobbyists.

It followed morning radio reports that ministers were expected to discuss matters including the driving test backlog and the ending of the British government's furlough scheme.

Financial support for non-food indoor pubs which have not yet been allowed to reopen during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as support for the taxi industry, were also expected to be on the agenda.

Infrastructure minister and SDLP deputy leader Ms Mallon vented her frustration on Twitter over hearing the details on BBC Radio Ulster's morning news programme.

"Very frustrating to once again first hear of the executive's agenda via [BBC Good Morning Ulster]," she said.

Justice minister and Alliance Party leader Ms Long also expressed concerns.

"Indeed. I was not only informed of the agenda but also told what the NI Executive would decide via a lobbyist," she tweeted.

It is not the first time Ms Mallon has voiced concerns over communication issues relating to meetings of the five-party Stormont power-sharing executive.

In June, the minister said she only found out plans to make face masks compulsory on public transport were not on the executive agenda just before the meeting.

An announcement was expected from the executive but the issue was not discussed when ministers met.

The North Belfast MLA said she had been raising the issue for weeks and was "not entirely sure" why the proposal had been put on hold.

The first and deputy first ministers had said they were looking at legal advice on the matter.

Face coverings on public transport later became mandatory the following month.


Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news