Assembly reform necessary if power-sharing Executive cannot be restored
With fresh elections expected in the North, Labour Party Leader and spokesperson on Northern Ireland Ivana Bacik TD has called on the Irish government to advocate for assembly reform to break the veto on the restoration of a power-sharing executive.
Deputy Bacik said:
“On Thursday at Leader’s Questions I raised with the Tánaiste what the Irish government’s Plan B will be if another Assembly election is now held, and the DUP continue to refuse to allow a power sharing executive to be formed. Assembly reform is needed to reflect the changing political environment of Northern Ireland, and remove the veto that has resulted in no functioning Executive for four of the past six years.
“Only six months ago an Assembly election was held, and while the British government have said a new poll will take place, it is likely that a similar result will be returned, and it won’t change the position of the DUP. In such an extended period without an Executive there will not be a return to the direct rule of the past, and Ireland only has a consultative role under such a scenario but there is an alternative route through reform.
“As we approach the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement next year the principles at the heart of it – consent, partnership, and compromise remain the same, but it is clear that the changes introduced from the St Andrews Agreement are not resulting in a functioning executive, allowing the democratic choices of voters to be ignored so Assembly reform is now necessary.
“The current arrangements drive voters into blocks, entrench division, and have hollowed out the centre ground parties, while also resulting in more voters opting for unaligned alternatives which are not accounted for in the current structures.
“It is time that the governments in Ireland and the UK recognise that changes are needed that reflect the principles of the Good Friday Agreement and these must be very carefully considered.
“No party should be excluded from power-sharing and every Party should be given the option to take part but when one party takes the unilateral decision to veto power-sharing and hold all others to ransom then it is only right that reforms are made to allow those willing to form an Executive to carry on without them and restore the democratic institutions.”