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Jim Allister: London ministers accountable to the Assembly is way forward

By Noel McAdam

Published 09/10/2015

TUV leader Jim Allister
TUV leader Jim Allister

Direct rule ministers could be made accountable to the Assembly in a revamp of Stormont proposed by Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister.

As the third week of inter-party negotiations concluded - in which the TUV is not involved - Mr Allister said his preference remained a voluntary rather than mandatory coalition with weighted majorities to protect minorities.

But a new party policy pamphlet suggested the elected Assembly could be left as a legislature - but without an Executive.

"Executive functions would be exercised by British ministers, but with the vital distinction from the past that they would be accountable to the Assembly and their legislative programme would pass, not through Westminster, but through the Stormont Assembly," the document said.

Mr Allister said: "Clinging endlessly to the failure of mandatory coalition is not serving Northern Ireland well.

"The cycle of crisis, then sticking plaster talks, before lurching to crisis again, is destroying public confidence. It is time for fresh thinking, such as these proposals contain."

Unveiled at Stormont yesterday as a new policy, the pamphlet called A Path to Making Stormont Work said Executive functions "would be exercised by British ministers, but with the vital distinction from the past that they would be accountable to the Assembly and their legislative programme would pass, not through Westminster, but through the Stormont Assembly".

Mr Allister, a former MEP who is vehemently opposed to the European Union, admitted the proposal echoed the Brussels way of doing things.

"Though the EU has little to recommend it, for decades the European Parliament has exercised a shared legislative function with the Council of Ministers," he said

"The present Stormont institutions are not worth saving. They have had their chance and all they produce is constant deadlock, chaos and failure. Even if the present talks cobble together another short-term fix, it won't last.

"Let's focus on the positive work of building something that will work, not the backward-looking negativity of trying to persist with that which has failed."

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