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Stormont must ditch summer break and keep working during coronavirus pandemic, says Alliance


Alliance chief whip Kellie Armstrong MLA

Alliance chief whip Kellie Armstrong MLA

Alliance chief whip Kellie Armstrong MLA

Alliance has called on the other Stormont parties to ditch the forthcoming summer recess for the Assembly and councils in order to focus on the coronavirus crisis.

MLAs are to break at the beginning of July for eight weeks for the timetabled summer break.

During recess, all activities in Parliament Buildings are suspended, with no amendments to legislation tabled, MLAs unable to ask ministers questions, and committee scrutiny ending.

The matter is to be discussed at this week's meeting of the Assembly Business committee.

Last week members of the Scottish parliament unanimously backed plans to cancel its break.

Alliance chief whip Kellie Armstrong MLA said there would be no break from the effects of the global pandemic over the summer months.

She said: "There is therefore a need for the Assembly, and indeed our local councils, to continue to meet regularly during the period where there would normally be recess, in order to respond quickly to emergency situations and help ease the pressure on individuals, families businesses and others from this crisis.

"There is no justification for taking a break from legislating during a national health and economic crisis. At a time when people will be made redundant, having no provision of childcare to allow parents to return to work, and schools and businesses remain closed, politicians need to be working to deliver for citizens, not slowing the pace. There may well be issues around staffing due to workplace leave, but with staggered holidays or a reduced rota, that is something which can be easily overcome.

"Most politicians and civil servants are in a privileged position where the jobs and salaries are broadly protected. It would be extremely inappropriate to take a back seat when others are potentially starting to return to work or reopening their businesses.

"To pause legislating during this crisis, not to mention a rapidly approaching Brexit, would be indefensible. I am asking all other parties to back this call and show society we want to continue leading in the roles we were elected to."

Belfast Telegraph