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Power-sharing has entrenched sectarianism

I WRITE regarding your front page headline, Union forum is 'too tribal' (December 19).

Firstly, it is ironic for David Ford to call it "tribal", given the decision over the removal of the Union flag at Belfast City Hall.

One could label the removal of the flag as being "tribal" in itself, rather than being about equality.

There is nothing tribal about the flag of the United Kingdom. If others see it that way, they are wrong. Secondly, in 1998 and again in 2006, the main political parties here signed up to power-sharing, otherwise known as consociationalism.

Consociationalism, in fact, entrenches sectarianism, by recognising the very existence of those groups in conflict with one another.

It forms the basis of how Stormont works. On entering the Assembly, each member designates themselves as 'unionist', 'nationalist' or 'other'.

They can effectively destroy, or confine to the dustbin, legislation of any sort by raising a Petition of Concern, which then forms the basis of a cross-community vote.

If the majority of one group votes against the issue in question, it fails. The simple majority system, or weighed majority, in existence in most Western democracies does not apply.

Therefore, the basis of the Belfast/Good Friday and St Andrews agreements encourages each group to come together and speak within itself.

Your headline, originating from a statement from David Ford, could, therefore, be deemed to be against the principles of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.



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