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NI21 leader Basil McCrea in outburst at 'useless' Assembly

The leader of Northern Ireland's newest unionist party has branded the Assembly "useless" and unable to deliver.

Basil McCrea's unbridled attack came as Assembly Members voted to retain the controversial petitions of concern mechanism that allows unionists to veto nationalists and vice versa.

The committee which drew up a report on the issue, and its deliberations, came under strong attack from several MLAs.

Mr McCrea claimed it was a useless report by a useless committee – and then told MLAs: "There was no consensus on how to restrict petitions of concern. There was no consensus on how petitions of concern on legislation should be brought.

"No consensus, no consensus, no consensus. You can agree on nothing, not a thing.

"There is no consensus on anything. Do you know what? That is what is wrong with this place. There is not a single thing that you can agree on.

"You sit here in this sham fight and pretend that you are working together in Government and that you will come up with something for the common good – you will not."

Refusing to accept any interventions, including from the DUP, the NI21 leader argued that Sinn Fein did not need the Assembly to work, but unionism did.

"Unionism needs to start working out how to make the chamber accountable and democratic because the people looking in are saying that this place is dysfunctional, this place does not work, this place does not deliver and this place is useless – just as useless as the committee and its report," he added.

The DUP's Stephen Moutray, who chaired the committee which drew up the report, said: "Although there was some support in committee for the use of the alternative mechanism of a weighted majority vote for matters subject to petition of concern, again there was no consensus on the issue."

Belfast Telegraph