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Assembly fast-tracking disgraceful, says Ford

By Noel McAdam

Most legislation going through the Assembly is now being fast-tracked, avoiding full scrutiny by MLAs, the Alliance party warned today.

Leader David Ford accused the Executive of "breathtaking arrogance and incompetence" and attempting to snub democratic process.

But the DUP hit back at Mr Ford and said the attack was the latest example of Alliance hypocrisy.

The criticism came after Environment Minister Arlene Foster got the go-ahead for so-called 'accelerated passage' on legislation to appoint a Boundaries Commissioner to advance the shrinkage of the 26 councils to 11.

In the latest phase of the ongoing review of public administration, the DUP Minister had warned that without permission from the Stormont environment committee, the scheduled 2011 elections for the new councils could be in danger.

It was the second time this week, however, Executive Ministers have sought to fast-track legislation - MLAs clashed over speeding through the new Victims' Commission on Monday - which means it can bypass the Stormont scrutiny committee stage.

"Accelerated passage is a measure that is only meant to be used in emergencies, but the Boundary Commissioner Bill means that an overall majority of Executive Bills fall into this category," Mr Ford said.

"This is totally disgraceful and illustrates the breathtaking arrogance and incompetence of the Executive and how it seeks to snub democratic processes at every cut and turn."

Belfast Telegraph


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