Alliance Leader David Ford has said those who suggest that devolved institutions with a mandatory coalition can be restored without prior all-party agreement are shirking their responsibility to lead the process.
David Ford stated: “This process is going nowhere if other leaders continue to engage in the politics of a parallel universe.
“The very suggestion that the reasons for the Assembly’s collapse have gone away is unadulterated nonsense. The institutions collapsed not once but four times – on each occasion, in practice, because the mechanisms and structures failed to manage the mistrust between the parties. This mistrust has since become worse rather than better. The idea that if you put them back together parties will magically come to their senses is ludicrous — for the institutional structures themselves are flawed.
“We have two options to move the process forward. Either we seek agreement among all the Assembly parties and, on the basis of such agreement, set up institutions that last and gain public confidence; or we abandon institutionalized sectarianism and mandatory coalition and instead establish institutions genuinely accountable to the people on the basis of voluntary coalition.
“It is somewhat ironic that those people who refused even to discuss voluntary coalition 18 months ago are now the ones suggesting the exclusion of parties unwilling to make the institutions work. There is nothing more certain to stop the institutions working than people trying to build the structures without the foundation.
“It is time people got off their tribal high horse and grasped the reality that the institutions are flawed, and got to work on mending them. ‘Ivory tower politics’ is not an option.”