In a message for the New Year, Alliance Leader David Ford has said that it may be time to re-examine the necessary reforms to the Good Friday Agreement.
David Ford said:
“Almost a year ago, at the beginning of January, Alliance published proposals for the reform of the Agreement which were based on the need for a fundamental change to some of the mechanisms of the Agreement, while preserving the basic principles.
“In particular, we proposed a voluntary coalition executive, supported by a super-majority in the assembly, which was more likely to work than the original system, because of a lack of trust between the different parties.
“Regrettably, the Governments have spent a full year concentrating on the two parties that distrust each other most. Despite all their efforts, nothing has been achieved. It is little wonder that the people of Northern Ireland are becoming more and more cynical.
“Alliance put forward a number of compromise proposals at and since Leeds Castle. However, we always recognised that there were limitations to the current approach.
“The document published by the Governments at the Waterfront Hall showed how much still had to be done. The talks at Hillsborough showed that they have run out of ideas.
“Alliance believes that it is time for a more fundamental review of the Agreement. Instead of propping up structures that didn’t even work very well when the UUP and SDLP were in charge, it is time to examine different mechanisms. We must ensure that we actually restore devolution, on a basis that will work, rather than further attempts to resurrect a system that has so obviously failed.
“The principles of the Agreement remain the only basis for movement forward, but the proposals we published in ‘Agenda for Democracy’ have much greater chance of success than we have achieved throughout 2004.”
Agenda for Democracy is on the web, linked to the front page of www.allianceparty.org
The key changes suggested include:
· an end to the system of sectarian ‘designations’, substituting a weighted majority of 60 to 65% for key Assembly votes
· the formation of an Executive as a voluntary coalition, endorsed by a weighted majority in the Assembly
· streamlining the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister
· placing a duty on all public agencies and government departments to promote good community relations