An Adjudication Hearing conducted on behalf of the Northern Ireland Local Government Commissioner for Standards, held in Downshire Civic Centre, Downpatrick today (Thursday 29th September 2016) has found that Councillor Patrick Clarke had failed to comply with the Northern Ireland Local Government Code of Conduct for Councillors. The Hearing was adjourned by the Acting Commissioner Ian A Gordon to consider sanction on Councillor Clarke until 20th October.

The Hearing was called to consider alleged breaches of the Northern Ireland Local Government Code of Conduct by Councillor Patrick Clarke of Newry, Mourne and Downpatrick District Council.  Namely that Councillor Clarke had breached the Public Duty Principle of the Code and Code paragraphs 4.1(a) and 4.2.

At the commencement of the Hearing, Councillor Clarke’s representative Mr Barry McKenna BL said that Councillor Clarke accepted that he had failed to comply with the Code.

The Acting Commissioner then moved to a closed session to consider whether this admission together with the information and evidence available to him constituted a breach of the Code.  Mr Gordon subsequently decided that Councillor Clarke had indeed failed to comply with the Code and moved to consider the sanction available.

At this stage Mr McKenna asked the Acting Commissioner for an adjournment of the decision on sanction to another date.  The grounds for this adjournment were then discussed in closed session. Following his consideration of these grounds, the Acting Commissioner Mr Gordon said

“I am very mindful of the need to expedite matters in the public interest, the interest of Councillor Clarke and the interest of the Commissioner’s Office.  However after a careful consideration of all the facts I have exercised my discretion to adjourn a decision on the sanction to a later date”.

The Adjudication Hearing will convene again on 20th October 2016 at Downshire Civic Centre.

The Northern Ireland Local Government Commissioner for Standards Mrs Marie Anderson appointed Mr Ian A Gordon OBE QPM LL.B (Hons) as Acting Commissioner to conduct the Adjudication Hearing.  Mrs Anderson excluded herself from the Hearing process as prior to her appointment she was the Deputy Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and led the team investigating the complaint made against Councillor Clarke.  Mr Gordon is the Convener of the Standards Commission for Scotland, a position he has held since February 2010.

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