About the Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct for Councillors sets out the principles and rules of conduct which councillors must observe. Councillors have a personal responsibility to ensure that they are familiar with, and understand their obligations under the Code.

The Principles are intended to promote the highest possible standards of behaviour for councillors.  The Rules are the practical application of the Principles.  Councillors are required to observe both. As Councillors are entitled to a private life, many of the rules contained in the Code apply only when a councillor is acting in the role of councillor or acting as a representative of his or her council.   There are times when private behaviour can affect the reputation of a councillor and his or her Council. As a result, some of the rules apply at all times. One of these is that a councillor should not behave in a way that could bring his or her position as a councillor, or his or her council, into disrepute.

The 12 Principles are: Public Duty; Selflessness; Integrity; Objectivity; Accountability; Openness; Honesty; Leadership; Equality; Promoting Good Relations; Respect; and Good Working Relationships.

The Rules relate to:

  • obligations as a councillor;
  • behaviour towards other people;
  • disclosure of information;
  • use of position;
  • use of council resources;
  • expenses and allowances;
  • acceptance and registration of gifts and hospitality; and
  • planning matters.

The Code does not cover such matters as whether a councillor provides a good standard of service to his or her constituents. That is a matter for the electorate to decide at the next election.

In November 2015, the then Minister of the Environment, Mark H. Durkan MLA, appointed a working group to review Part 3 (Principles) and Part 8 (Decision Making) of the Code.  When the outcome of that review becomes available it will be considered by this Office and the Commissioner’s response will be posted on this website in due course.