Independent candidate in long battle with Civil Service

Stephen McCarroll. INPT1516-401
Stephen McCarroll. INPT1516-401

A businessman who has taken on the might of the Northern Ireland and UK Civil Service in a battle lasting for more than seven years is to stand as an independent candidate in the Assembly elections.

Stephen McCarroll (60), who describes himself as an “external whistleblower”, says he wants “to ensure no other business is treated the way mine was”.

Mr McCarroll, who has owned and run the Carn-based company Surgical Systems Ireland for more than 20 years, says that while he is not expecting to get many votes, he is hoping to highlight important public issues.

The Lurgan man, who is married with two grown-up children, will be running a digital campaign, which will include a detailed history of the series of events which prompted his decision to stand as an Upper Bann candidate.

He claims these began in January 2009 when his business, which then employed eight people including himself, was “owed tens of thousands of pounds” by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust for items it had supplied.

He said the trust reorganised the financial department and suppliers’ bills were not paid on time: “I was one of those suppliers.

“If it hadn’t been for the good nature of my own suppliers I wouldn’t have a business today.

“Some of the money I was owed dated back eight months.”

Added Mr McCarroll, “This has caused serious damage to my business. In 2011, I had to downsize to five employees and now there are just three of us.

“I have no idea why this has never been resolved. All I wanted was an apology, payment of the late claims and resolution of the late payment problem.”

He also claims that over the years he has raised his complaints “time and time again” with a number of top-ranking officials at the Department of Health, the NI Civil Service, the Cabinet Office in London and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

Mr McCarroll says he has no regrets about taking on the Government.

“It has been difficult but you have to decide in life what is right and what is wrong. It was wrong in 2009 and it is even more wrong now.

“Standing for election gives me a chance to put my head above the parapet and say ‘this is wrong’.”

Mr McCarroll has also lodged a complaint against a member of the DUP under the Data Protection Act.

In terms of the issues he has raised, he has also accused the DUP of “failing to bring about a resolution despite being responsible for health over the past five years”.