Northern Ireland news

SDLP hits back after DUP MLA slams Nichola Mallon over 'ministerial record'

DUP Upper Bann MLA Jonathan Buckley criticised infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon in an interview with the BBC's Sunday Politics show
Paul Ainsworth

A DUP MLA has been accused of making a "desperate attempt" to deflect from the party's double-jobbing row by launching a verbal attack on Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon.

Upper Bann assembly member Jonathan Buckley, appearing on BBC's Sunday Politics, had been asked to comment on criticism of DUP and Sinn Féin ministers by Ms Mallon, whom presenter Mark Carruthers said had hit out over other parties putting party interests ahead of those of the Executive.

In response, Mr Buckley, who chairs Stormont's infrastructure committee, criticised Ms Mallon's record at the helm of the department and accused the SDLP of "floundering".

He referred to delays with infrastructure projects including the York Street Interchange in Belfast and the A4 and A5 roads.

"Both this minister and the SDLP are floundering at the helm of the Department for Infrastructure, which has now frankly become a laughing stock among many within the industry, and that delay is causing significant costs to the Northern Ireland taxpayer."

He added of Ms Mallon: "It's about time she was held responsible and accountable for her lack of decision making."

Responding to criticism of Ms Mallon, who yesterday revealed she is self-isolating after testing positive for Covid, an SDLP spokesperson said Mr Buckley's comments were "nothing more than another shambolic and embarrassing week for the DUP."

"Mr Buckley and the DUP aren’t interested in doing good government that delivers, they are only interested in cutting corners and political self interest." the spokesperson added.

"In the SDLP, we are focused on delivery for people, not for party interests and we’ll stand over Nichola Mallon’s record in Government any day. After 15 years of the DUP failing in Government, isn’t it any wonder the DUP are running scared of this election.”

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