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Alliance leader David Ford urges reboot of Stormont functions

By Noel McAdam

Cutting the size of Stormont will not make the difference that people deserve, Alliance Party leader David Ford has warned.

While the Northern Ireland Office claimed progress was being made on reducing the number of Assembly members as well as government departments, Mr Ford argued: "We need to fix the way they function."

His comments came as Secretary of State Theresa Villiers is due to complete the first report from the negotiations involving the five Executive parties - DUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP, Ulster Unionists and Alliance. The report, expected next week, will be sent to Prime Minister David Cameron and Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Mr Ford said the changes should involve a Programme for Government agreed before parties form the Executive, not afterwards, and mechanisms to support parties which choose to stay out of the Executive.

Making Stormont 'fit for purpose' would also involve moving from a mandatory to voluntary coalition, developing an opposition and legislation requiring departments to work together.

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