Farry questions Foster’s veto claim

Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry has questioned the validity of Arlene Foster’s claim she would like to see the petition of concern mechanism scrapped.

Mrs Foster told the BBC she wanted after the election to talk about “getting rid of” the controversial veto, which has been used to block equal marriage as well as other legislation.

Dr Farry said it appeared to be just the latest in a long list of pledges by the DUP which would not be followed through on.

“The DUP and Sinn Fein promised to reform the petition of concern mechanism in the so-called Fresh Start deal and then refused to do anything about it. Only last October, Arlene Foster stated she would continue to use the veto to stop marriage equality.

“Prior to last year’s election, the same DUP made a show of talking about how they would support donor transparency. Once again, we are awaiting the party to make a move in that area.

“During the negotiations around the Justice Ministry last May, one of Alliance’s conditions was reform of the petition of concern. Arlene Foster banged the table in anger and said she would not do so. We wished to see a limit placed on the veto, so it would be used as it was originally envisaged – relating to matters of either national identity, the legacy of the Troubles or the Good Friday Agreement institutions.

“Therefore, it is quite obvious to ask if this is an actual commitment or yet more pre-election talk from the DUP, which we will hear no more about after polling day?”

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