An apology from Councillor Nuala McAllister (Belfast City Council) regarding a complaint concerning an article published by Councillor McAllister in an Alliance Party campaign leaflet in February 2016:
‘I would like to make an apology in respect of a complaint made against me to the Local Government Commissioner for Standards in which it was alleged that I had breached the Code of Conduct for Councillors in Northern Ireland. The complaint concerned an article I published in a campaign leaflet (the ‘North Belfast Clarion’) issued in 2016, which showed the image of a glass jar full of money under the heading ‘What have they got to hide?’ The content of the article made specific reference to the Belfast City Council Planning Committee and planning decisions.
My intention in publishing the article was, as will always be my intention, to promote greater openness and transparency in the carrying out of council business. It did not occur to me that the text and photograph taken together could be interpreted by individuals as alleging or implying corruption by councillors in the discharge of their council duties. I, however, now accept that the presentation of the article alongside the photographic image was open to alternative interpretation and that this did cause concern amongst members of the planning committee. I, therefore, wish to set the record straight and I apologise specifically to the members of the planning committee and those councillors who complained about the article for any concern caused. I hope that, as a result of my apology, we as councillors can draw a line under this issue and continue to work together for the betterment of all our constituents.’
The complaint was dealt with by way of the Commissioner’s Alternative Action policy, which is available here.
As part of the Alternative Action, it was decided that the above apology be made available on this website. Councillor McAllister has also apologised in writing to each of the councillors who complained about the text and photograph of the article in question.