Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs has demanded answers from the Finance Minister Sammy Wilson after it emerged that a ban is currently in place on press releases being distributed from the Department of Finance and Personnel to the Press Association.
The East Antrim representative said:
“I am bewildered to learn that for many months there has been a ban in place by the Department of Finance and Personnel stopping their press releases from being distributed to the Press Association.’
“One of the most fundamental values of the United Kingdom is the free press and I find it deeply disturbing that efforts appear to have been made to censor the Press Association and to have an undue influence on the media.”
“I have submitted questions to the Minister, Sammy Wilson, asking whether the directive to impose this ban came directly from him. If not he should advise who was responsible for giving the order. I have also asked whether he intends to lift the ban immediately.”
“The Press Association had issued a correction on the story which had caused the problems for the Minister and the Department. Given that an apology has been issued, surely it is time to move on rather that treat this important news outlet in a manner which would appear to many as being vindictive. This seems like an extreme case of the proverbial toys being thrown out of the pram. I hope this serious situation will be brought to an abrupt end.”