Dickson calls for different approach on Assembly election anniversary

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has said there is a need for a different approach to restoring devolution, one year on from the Assembly election.

On March 2, 2017, voters went to the polls, with Alliance increasing its vote by 50 per cent – the party’s highest number of votes since 1979. It ensured the party retained its eight MLAs, however, the Assembly has not sat and talks to restore it recently collapsed.

Mr Dickson said Alliance remains determined to deliver for everyone.

“One year ago today, people turned out for an Assembly election which gave a ringing endorsement to both liberal politics and the restoration of the powersharing institutions. However, 12 months later we remain frustrated and disappointed there is no Assembly and Executive. The damage done, both economically and to the political system, has been in some cases catastrophic.

“Devolution can and must be saved but there is a need for a different approach than has been taken so far if locally accountable, shared and sustainable Government is to return. Firstly, genuine all-party talks chaired by an independent mediator would be a major step forward. It would eliminate the drift we have seen from the two biggest parties’ separate discussions.

“We must also see the reform of the Petition of Concern mechanism if we are to have an Assembly which delivers for all in a democratic way. Devolution is vital to Northern Ireland – aiding reconciliation and providing a local voice on issues such as Brexit. It would be an utter disgrace if the hard-fought gains of the peace process are allowed to be discarded so easily.

“People voted in the hope they would see change delivered and Alliance is still intent on delivering that to move our society forward. While others may hanker for a return to Direct Rule or agitate for another election to achieve a better result for their party, we are clear neither will solve the political, social and financial challenges facing us, which have been exacerbated by the lack of an Assembly.”

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