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Dysfunctional Stormont needs honest broker

PETER Robinson is right. Stormont has become rather dysfunctional, involving two major parties like SF and DUP with such opposing ideals.

An article by Sean Neeson and Stephen Farry analysing the Agreement published in 1999 predicted such an outcome. New elections would solve nothing unless there was a dramatic change in voting patterns away from DUP and SF to non-sectarian parties.

Two changes that might help would be firstly, move away from the sectarian cross-community voting system to a weighted majority system. It has been shown that this would still protect minority interests. It would also enfranchise the votes of "others" whose votes do not count in the current 50% plus nationalist to 50% plus unionist requirement.

The second is to appoint a neutral 'adjudicator' – a 'Solomon' – agreed by all who could be called in on those occasions when cross-community agreement on key issues, such as the present one over benefits, is totally absent. This person would decide what should happen, and all parties would be required to accept that decision.

Who could this be, acceptable to all including British and Irish Governments? Perhaps someone from a neutral country such as Brigadier Tauno Nieminen from Finland, a member of the 1997 to 2005 Decommissioning Commission, or Norwegian Torkel Opsahl of the 1992 Opsahl Report. Probably a better way would be if the DUP would be generous to SF and agree to the Maze Peace Centre and also perhaps to the Irish Language Bill and Narrowwater bridge. Then perhaps SF might reciprocate and agree to the benefits changes? They are supposed to be sharing power, not blocking everything!

Brian Eggins


Belfast Telegraph


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