is the SDLP turning a blind eye to its Deputy Leader's conflict
of interest controversy?
Before LNG' is asking why the SDLP has refused
for nearly one year to deal with what it perceives as a serious
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.
the SDLP Deputy
leader, Nichola Mallon, became Minister for Infrastructure in Northern
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".
this was not quite the full story, because Brendan Scott was,
at the time, none other than the "public
engagement manager" for EHA
Exploration Limited, one of the two fracking companies which, along
Tamboran, is awaiting a decision from
wife, Nichola Mallon, and the other Ministers in the Northern Ireland
(Cabinet) on petroleum policy and a petroleum licence application worth
millions of pounds to EHA.
places the SDLP in a precarious position.
fear that the current situation has already effectively silenced the
in an imminent Executive decision on petroleum licensing and policy in
Ireland. The consequences of EHA winning the licence would be a
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
governance and public trust in the political process.
its head in the sand, hoping for the excuse of plausible deniability
the problem might just go away, is not an option for the SDLP now in
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
Section 6.157 of the
relation to unconventional
hydrocarbon extraction there should be a presumption against their
until there is sufficient and robust evidence on all environmental
Minister Mallon nor the SDLP party of which she is Deputy Leader
has made any comprehensive statement on this matter for almost one
This omerta by
the SDLP party on such a serious
fundamental issue of concern for transparent governance in Northern
only worsened our perception of the conflict of interest.
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
coming soon from DfE. Damage will be Widespread, Permanent and
Unforgivable)", published October 1st 2021.