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Democracy mocked by petition of concern

The vote of no confidence in Arlene Foster over the RHI scandal once again highlights the inappropriate use of the petition of concern.

The DUP "lost" the vote in the chamber 39-36, but because it had triggered the petition of concern, which only requires the signatures of 30 MLAs, it could effectively veto the outcome.

As the DUP has 38 MLAs, by invoking the petition of concern it can block anything it wants in the Assembly.

This is totally undemocratic and leads to an arrogance within the DUP that has been evident throughout the RHI debacle.

As well as calling for a public inquiry into the RHI scheme, MLAs should equally be calling for the present review of the petition of concern to be conducted urgently.

Should the number required to trigger the petition not at least be higher than the number of MLAs in the largest party?

Should it be limited to certain key areas and not motions of no confidence?

Mark Durkan has described the process as playing the joker card, but it is worse - it is making a joke of the institutions and democracy.


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