Recent anniversary puts need for reform back on the table, says Long

The recent anniversary of the resignation of Paul Givan as First Minister and lack of progress on restoring the Executive has put the need for reform of the institutions back on the table, Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said.

Political Reform Naomi Long
She said a series of reforms proposed by Alliance offers the only serious opportunity to restore the Assembly and Executive, and secure their long-term future.
“We have just passed the first anniversary of the withdrawal of the DUP from the position of First Minister and now their current refusal to nominate a deputy First Minister. The drift caused in a time of hardship for the public and for public services is completely unacceptable. The need to reform the institutions so the Executive can deal with the list of issues needing urgent attention has never been greater,” she said.
“We were elected to find solutions to the problems affecting people every day, and it’s long past time those of us who are willing were allowed to start delivering. If the DUP continue to hold the people of Northern Ireland to ransom, we need to reform our political institutions so those who wish to govern can do so, and those who wish to opt out can no longer impede progress.
“In April 1998, parties representing all sections of our community came together to put their names to the Good Friday Agreement. The Agreement was a foundation for future progress, not a ceiling to our ambitions for our community. Alliance has always been pragmatic about the need for our political structures to evolve, and as we approach the 25th anniversary of the Agreement without a functioning Executive, the case for reform is now indisputable.
“At a minimum, changes need to be made to the process of nominating a First and deputy First Minister, so if a party is unwilling to nominate, the opportunity passes to the next largest party. To facilitate effective government, weighted majority voting should replace parallel consent for ‘cross-community’ votes in the Assembly. In addition, the use of petitions of concern and for ‘cross-community’ votes within the Executive should be restricted to specified issues, to prevent wider abuse.
“These proposals do not alter the fundamental principles of the Good Friday Agreement, but significantly, could begin to restore public confidence in the institutions, while kick-starting devolution by allowing those who wish to form an Executive to do so, instead of holding hostage the best interests of everyone in our society.”