Dr Farry said while there appeared to be little likelihood of a deal emerging tomorrow and a budget would be put through Westminster the following week, it did not mean the end of Stormont or devolution. He said Alliance has asked the Secretary of State to reform the petition of concern in Westminster.
“Power-sharing devolution is vital to local democracy and representative decision-making, facilitating reconciliation and providing a coherent regional voice in critical matters such as Brexit. The gains of recent decades have been hard won and should not be discarded without exploring all of the options and alternatives.
“The DUP and Sinn Féin have been given every opportunity to reach an agreement recently. In the event of failure, the Secretary of State has spoken of a glidepath to direct rule. But things aren’t so binary – there are other approaches and potential changes to the current rules and framework to be considered before the point of no-return on devolution.
“Voluntary coalition has been Alliance policy for many years. We are clear this has to be a means of providing coherent and cross-community government, supported by a weighted-majority. If this is a major leap for some at this moment, or not something directly workable today on the current electoral balance, there are still other interventions.
“Alliance has directly asked the Secretary of State to intervene to provide for reform the Petition of Concern. The mutual vetoes in the hands of the DUP and Sinn Féin seriously hamper free and open debate and decision-making.
“All of the current issues which appear to be blockages to agreement, including language and culture, could all be addressed through public debate and a proportionate resolution on the floor of the Assembly. Any outcome would reflect the democratic wishes of the people of Northern Ireland.
“In the event the UK Parliament did make these adjustments, it would only amount to a limited intervention and fall short of the wider implications arising from direct rule. The challenge would then fall to all parties to get on with their responsibilities to govern.”