Interior Minister Scandal Causes Tremors In Parliament

Interior Minister Scandal Causes Tremors In Parliament

Published July 31, 2014

Photo by
althingi.is

Members of parliament are sharply divided on how to contend with the news that Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir may have tried to influence the police investigations of her ministry.

Shortly after news broke from DV that Hanna Birna had allegedly told then Commissioner of the Capital Area Police Stefán Eiríksson, both in person and over the phone, that she was unhappy with how investigations of her ministry were being conducted, Parliamentary Ombudsman Tryggvi Gunnarsson spoke with both Stefán and State Prosecutor Sigríður Friðjónsdóttir about the story. After his conversations with the two, Tryggvi sent a formal request to the minister demanding to know if these exchanges between Stefán and Hanna Birna happened as reported.

This request has precipitated divided reactions from members of parliament, both within the ruling coalition and the opposition, as a Parliamentary Ombudsman request is a legally serious matter.

“The ombudsman isn’t playing around about this,” professor of law Sigurður Líndal told DV. “He does this because he believes he has reason to believe that something is not as it should be.” Sigurður added that, in the minister’s position, the right thing to do would be to resign.

Vísir reports that some opposition MPs are considering submitting a vote of no confidence against Hanna Birna when parliament reconvenes this fall.

At the same time, Pirate Party MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir, who sits on The Constitutional and Supervisory Committee, told RÚV that she believes the committee she meet immediately over the matter. As it stands now, Left-Green MP and committee chairperson Ögmundur Jónasson has said the meeting will convene by the end of August.

Where the ruling coalition is concerned, MPs are more reticent. RÚV reports that a number of MPs within the Independence Party, for which Hanna Birna is also the vice chairperson, are deeply concerned over the matter. No decision has yet been made on whether or not the party will hold a formal meeting on the subject.

Independence Party chairperson Bjarni Benediktsson has declined to comment about the story, DV reports. Independence Party parliamentary chairperson Ragnheiður Ríkharðsdóttir told reporters she considered herself unfit to comment on the story, due to her connection with one of Hanna Birna’s assistants, Þórey Vilhjálmsdóttir. Ragnheiður is the mother of Þórey’s ex-husband, Ríkharður Daðason. DV points out, though, that Ragnheiður did defend Hanna Birna last January, when her son and Hanna Birna’s assistant were still married.

Hanna Birna has until August 15 to respond to the ombudsman’s request.

Related:

Completely Unthinkable: Police Investigations of the Ministry of the Interior, and what they reveal (so far)

Ask Not on Whom the Sun Shines: New Refugee-Hostile Chief of Capital Area Police

What If Sunday is on the Phone to Monday?: The Police Chief, the Minister & the Enigmatic Beatles Tweet

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