Armstrong says proposals to reform Petition of Concern already on table

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has said proposals to reform the Petition of Concern mechanism have already been on the table for a year.

Alliance proposals to reform the mechanism would see its use restricted to matters of national identity, the legacy of the conflict and the constitutional structure of Northern Ireland, with adjudication of the eligibility being determined by an independent panel.

Ms Armstrong said reform could help deliver equal marriage and abortion reform to Northern Ireland, once the Assembly returns.

“Abuse of the Petition of Concern has significantly contributed to the lack of equality in our society, as well as the ongoing political deadlock. Despite previous Alliance attempts to secure reform, if the Assembly returned tomorrow, we would still be in the same position,” she said.

“The Secretary of State has not taken forward any legislation which would take barriers to restoration off the table. Therefore, with Westminster distracted and detached, reform of the Petition of Concern remains a necessary solution to make any future Assembly sustainable.

“As well as equality issues, reform would also increase the ability to hold Ministers, Speakers or MLAs to account for their conduct, while ensuring one party with the help of a few other MLAs is prevented from avoiding scrutiny or frustrating the will of the electorate.”

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