Alliance Deputy answers critics with challenge

ALLIANCE Party Deputy Leader Eileen Bell MLA has said that any bid to find a way to restore devolution is under threat if parties cling to uncompromising positions.

Mrs Bell said: “Alliance made positive contributions at the Leeds Castle negotiations, and we remain determined to find a way forward that is fair to all.

“We were up front about our initial position and later published compromise proposals on key issues such as ministerial accountability and the election of a First and Deputy First Minister. These compromises were in the spirit of the Agreement and were an honest and open attempt to find common ground on which all parties could unite.

“Indeed, we will be publishing our proposals put forward in Kent on our website to enable everyone to make up their own minds. We will see if our critics have the courage of their convictions to do the same.

“Alliance’s proposals – the first of all the parties to publish their position – were very different from the DUP’s. Our party has made major sacrifices for the Agreement, so to be simplistically labelled as anti-Agreement is unjustified and unwarranted.

“Northern Ireland has moved beyond the old pro-Agreement/ anti-Agreement debate – the aim now is to reform the Agreement, not destroy it or pretend that all is well with it. It’s time that others moved on too.

“Our compromise on the election of First and Deputy First Minister would not separate the offices, but would tie the Executive together in a way that would improve collective responsibility. It is hypocritical for those who failed to demonstrate true partnership when they had the opportunity in OFM/DFM to now become diehard cheerleaders for ‘jointery’.

“What Alliance has argued for is ‘jointery-plus’ in the Executive. We rejected unrealistic proposals, from whatever quarter they came, which were a recipe for gridlock, and we rejected any proposals disguising a return to majority rule.

“Likewise, our proposals on accountability would prevent any party exercising a one-party veto. The general public is crying out for more accountable politicians. How can a party lambast Direct Rule ministers for their lack of accountability to the people here, and then argue for the same for future Assembly Ministers?

“It is time that everyone faced up to the truth that the purpose of this review is to improve the Agreement in a fair way. Clinging to uncompromising positions of past failure is a recipe for disaster.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *