Stormont Executive will implode and talks will fail, Jim Allister tells TUV conference
Stromont's multi-party talks are only a "patch-up" job and the Executive will inevitably "implode", Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister told his party's annual conference.
Insisting that he wants to work towards "workable devolution", Mr Allister warned: "Whether the Stormont Executive implodes this year or next year, implode it will."
In the keynote speech of the gathering at Kells, near Ballymena, Mr Allister lambasted the five-party Executive as a "byword for chaos, waste and inaction".
He said the expenses scandal showed Stormont abusing public money on an "industrial scale", with cover-up "seemingly the order of the day" and the main parties "logjammed on every issue and delivering nothing".
He called ongoing talks on the past, flags and parading "a face-saving, self-serving Band-Aid to keep the gravy train on the tracks".
Buoyed by the party's breakthrough in the May elections - when it won 13 seats on the new super councils - he made clear his next main aim was to gain more seats in the Assembly.
"You've seen what one determined TUV voice can do, strengthen my hand with multiple TUV MLAs and watch the edifice of mis-government crumble and fall," he said.
"Only the glue of some semblance of power holds it together, but one day even that will give way to the inevitable collapse of a system that can never have democratic credibility."
The North Antrim MLA labelled Stormont "a waste machine" spending £5m on spin doctors, £50,000 a week on hospitality, £2m on special advisers - twice the total in Scotland and four times the cost in Wales - and also highlighted the First Minister and Deputy First Minister's office costs of £16.5m a year for 367 staff, twice the number of Prime Minister David Cameron.
Mr Allister said First Minister Peter Robinson had used the TUV's script in his Belfast Telegraph article, which declared the Stormont system "not fit for purpose". "But what is Mr Robinson doing about it? Nothing. If you lived in a house that was condemned as unfit, what would you do? You'd get out. But what does Mr Robinson do?
"He calls in the cowboy builders and bandits, who made it unfit, to see how they can patch it up. Instead of laying the axe to the root of the problem, he orders up the sticking plaster.
"Make no mistake, that is what the current talks are all about. It's the parties of failure scrambling round to patch up the collapsing edifice before it crashes down on top of their ministerial limos," he added.
The conference also heard from former Ulster Unionist East Londonderry MP William Ross, the TUV President, who said the party had confounded critics who had tried to write it off.
"We came back into the picture with a bang. We are not going away, we will increase in numbers and influence in coming years," he said.