TUV Leader Jim Allister has slammed the DUP over its treatment of Lisburn Councillor Jenny Palmer, who became embroiled in a very public row over the handling of a Housing Executive contract by Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland.
Mrs Palmer appeared on BBC’s Spotlight programme and alleged that Mr McCausland’s Special Advisor Stephen Brimstone had put pressure on her to change her vote at a meeting of the Housing Executive Board meeting.
The DSD committee at Stormont held an investigation into the allegations made in the Spotlight programme and released a report this week critical of the Minister.
During a debate in the Assembly on Tuesday night, Mr. Allister hit out at the DUP.
Addressing the former minister , Mr Allister said: “Might he hang his head in shame for the manner in which he treated his colleague Councillor Jenny Palmer.
“Speaking of Jenny Palmer’s colleagues, where are her friends from Lagan Valley? Where are Edwin Poots and Paul Givan to speak up in her defence? Is it a case that, again, the party come first? Will they vote to negative the report because the party comes first? In the name of decency and honesty, is there no one with the strength to stand up and say, “We believe — we know — that Jenny Palmer was telling the truth, and we are ashamed of how she was treated by her party.”? That is what one would expect from people faced with such a situation.
“That has to be one of the most disgraceful episodes in this matter: the way in which Councillor Jenny Palmer was treated by her own party and the aggressive, bullying phone call from the special adviser, telling her what to do, because the party came first,” said Mr Allister.
“I think that all of us in that Committee who came to it with any objectivity could not fail to be impressed with the compelling, transparent honesty of Jenny Palmer, of her courage in telling the truth and how shameful it was that, in one of the sessions, Sammy Wilson effectively said that she was a liar. That was a disgrace amongst many in the distracting attempts to disrupt the Committee.
“I suppose that it was too much to expect that, even at this point, there would be any recognition of the wrongdoing on which Mr McCausland was caught out. Instead, of course, we got an arrogant attempt to defend the indefensible. The Red Sky escapade and the political involvement in it has to be one of the worst excesses of abuse of power that has been seen under devolution.”