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Press Releases

For Immediate Release
Press Release October 2nd 2021: 

Why is the SDLP turning a blind eye to its Deputy Leader's conflict of interest controversy?

'Safety Before LNG' is asking why the SDLP has refused for nearly one year to deal with what it perceives as a serious conflict of interest by SDLP Deputy Leader Minister Nichola Mallon. In the coming weeks, Minister Mallon will be deciding in the Executive on petroleum policy and a petroleum licence application for fracking company EHA Exploration  - a company her husband worked for. 

When the SDLP Deputy leader, Nichola Mallon, became Minister for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland in January 2020, she made a Ministerial Declaration of Interest to her Permanent Secretary, Katrina Godfrey that her husband, Brendan Scott, "was employed by a public relations company and that his role does not involve advising on, or involvement in, any issue related to her responsibilities as Minister".

However, this was not quite the full story, because Brendan Scott was, at the time, none other than the "public liaison officer" and "community engagement manager" for  EHA Exploration Limited, one of the two fracking companies which, along with Tamboran, is awaiting a decision from his wife, Nichola Mallon, and the other Ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive (Cabinet) on petroleum policy and a petroleum licence application worth millions of pounds to EHA.

This places the SDLP in a precarious position.

We fear that the current situation has already effectively silenced the SDLP in an imminent Executive decision on petroleum licensing and policy in Northern Ireland. The consequences of EHA winning the licence would be a disaster for public health, human rights, the environment and the climate. We think that the reputational damage to the SDLP will be that of an immeasurable breach of transparency, good governance and public trust in the political process.

Digging its head in the sand, hoping for the excuse of plausible deniability and that the problem might just go away, is not an option for the SDLP now in the current circumstances.

We no longer have trust that Minister Mallon is not being influenced by her links to EHA Exploration Limited and are of the opinion already that she is not acting constructively or objectively to maintain the effective ban on fracking controlled by her Department, in the Strategic Planning Policy Statement (SPPS). Section 6.157 of the SPPS states: 

 “in relation to unconventional hydrocarbon extraction there should be a presumption against their exploitation until there is sufficient and robust evidence on all environmental impacts” .

Neither Minister Mallon nor the SDLP party of which she is Deputy Leader has made any comprehensive statement on this matter for almost one year. This omerta by the SDLP party on such a serious fundamental issue of concern for transparent governance in Northern Ireland has only worsened our perception of the conflict of interest. 



Contact: John McElligott 

Tel: 087-2804474 


Notes to Editor:

1. LAMP Fermanagh: 'The Clock Ticks on Health and Clean Green Tourism and Agriculture in NI (NI Ministers Must take Full Responsibility if they Fail to Act Now on Petroleum Licensing Options coming soon from DfE. Damage will be Widespread, Permanent and Unforgivable)", published October 1st 2021.