Belfast Telegraph

Jim Allister: DUP just 'feeding crocodile' by trying to revive failed Stormont

By Suzanne Breen

TUV leader Jim Allister has accused DUP leaders of being more interested in fulfilling selfish political ambitions than joining other unionists to change Stormont's "failed" system of government.

Addressing his party's annual conference in Cookstown on Saturday, Mr Allister claimed the DUP knew mandatory coalition was doomed to failure.

"We dare to say that this system will never work. They know we're talking sense," he said.

"But sadly salaries, and aspirations about limos, and being ministers for photo opportunities - don't bother reading the detail, those are far greater ambitions than actually getting a system of government that would work in this country."

Mr Allister said Stormont wasn't "serving the interests of unionists or nationalists or anyone in this province".

He added: "Is it in the interests of anyone to have the style or content of government we've seen exposed in the RHI Inquiry?

"We need government which works and we're not going to get it from this system."

Mr Allister noted that in last week's Belfast Telegraph Arlene Foster had written that an independent three-person panel had found that the army council still ran the IRA and Sinn Fein.

"And yet the height of her ambition for the past year has been to get back into government the same IRA/Sinn Fein, governed by the army council. With a vision like that, what hope is there?" he asked.

The TUV leader said mandatory coalition "made a mockery of the very essence of democracy" and nowhere else in the world was a party without a majority automatically entitled to be in government.

"My biggest regret is not that we didn't have an Executive. I'm delighted with a year of respite from Sinn Fein rule," he said.

"My biggest regret of the last year is that the DUP didn't take the glaring opportunity to demand change to that unworkable Belfast Agreement structure of mandatory coalition.

"Instead, it devoted its energy to seeking to resuscitate the very thing that can never work."

Rather than telling London that mandatory coalition was doomed, the DUP searched for a "sticking plaster to put it all back again" and decided to "feed the crocodile", he added.

Mr Allister said it was a missed opportunity for unionist unity but the situation could still be saved.

If the DUP was even now prepared to agree that the system had failed, it would get "a ready response from many other unionists, TUV included".

He rounded on Mrs Foster's party for leading "unionists to a new low point" of losing their Stormont majority.

"If this Assembly was back tomorrow, it would be a mirror image of Belfast City Hall controlled by the republican sympathising Alliance Party," he said.

"How does that serve unionist interests? So why this lemming enthusiasm to get it going again?

"There has to be other reasons and I suspect they're neither honourable nor respectable.

"Direct rule is not perfect, but it is better than Sinn Fein rule. And it's better than no rule, and that's what we've got.

"So I say to the Secretary of State: 'Get on with it lady!'

"It's time to bring us government."

Belfast Telegraph

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