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MLAs split over plans to reform Assembly

By Noel McAdam

Unionists and nationalists have again clashed over a shake-up of the Assembly, including the formation of an official opposition.

MLAs divided along traditional lines with unionists backing reform and nationalists broadly supporting the status quo.

Ulster Unionist deputy leader John McCallister said his party wanted to have an opposition in place by 2015.

"It is not the Assembly that is taking the lead in reforming the structures of government and that is what we have to get back to," the South Down MLA argued.

Sinn Fein said no argument had demonstrated an opposition would improve on the present system of checks and balances.

Alex Maskey said: "It's about sharing power (in a manner which) ensures that no one or no party or no broader community can ever again, by domination, manipulate the process to discriminate against others."

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