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Our Assembly system needs an overhaul

Danny Kennedy’s recent Tullyhappy speech fails to adequately address the issue facing unionism at the next Assembly election.

The reason unionism faces the prospect of a Sinn Fein First Minister is simple — at St Andrews the DUP rewrote the election of the First Minister procedure to suit themselves.

Arrogantly believing they would always be the largest party, they sought to create a First Minister coronation rather than an election, but Danny Kennedy will never say that!

Secondly — and again you will never hear this, because the DUP objected so loudly to the Ulster Unionists forming an alliance with the PUP in the last Assembly — the then speaker, again at the behest of the DUP, defined ‘party’ in such a way, that now rules out the kind of coalitions and groupings that Danny Kennedy was suggesting in his speech at Tullyhappy.

So, in summary, thanks to the DUP, the ‘closer cooperation’ model to prevent the nightmare of Martin McGuinness being First Minister can’t work, unless of course the UUP rolls over, plays dead and merges fully with |the DUP.

Regardless of whether you supported the Belfast Agreement or not, 12 years on from the referendum everyone recognises the |current model is dysfunctional and incapable of delivering good government.

I have no issue with the current system being an interim measure as Northern Ireland emerges from conflict.

However, I believe that the continuation of a failing system for purely aesthetic reasons is now unacceptable.

It is now time for Her Majesty’s Government and the local parties to carry out a systematic review of the Assembly and its operations.

This review must move from the mandatory coalition allowing it to be replaced with a voluntary or semi voluntary coalition system.

An official opposition must be allowed, as is the case with all other legislatures.

And the Assembly must be structured in such a way that allows it to vote or endorse the candidates for First and Deputy first Minister.



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