Farry says petition of concern ban talk justifies Alliance approach

Alliance MLA Stephen Farry has said the Assembly Commissioner’s suggestion of a ban of vetoes in certain circumstances justifies his party’s attempts to reform the process.

North Down MLA Mr Farry was speaking after Douglas Bain, the Assembly Commissioner for Standards, said in his annual report he wants to see a ban on the use of Petitions of Concern to stop complaints against MLAs in order to “prevent any potential abuse of the process and to boost public confidence”.

Reform of the Petition of Concern system was one of the proposals Alliance put to the DUP and Sinn Fein as part of recent negotiations around the Justice Ministry, a proposal rejected by the Executive parties.

“Alliance knows abuse of the Petition of Concern mechanism is one of the major issues causing a lack of public confidence in Stormont,” said Mr Farry.

“That’s why we suggested putting an agreement in place with immediate effect to limit its use to what it was originally intended for – matters of national identity, the legacy of the conflict and the constitutional structure and institutions. Not simply used as a personal veto by the biggest parties to stop sanctions against their MLAs.”

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