Long says official Opposition leave much to be desired

Alliance Deputy Leader Naomi Long MLA has said it is a poor display of the ability of the official Opposition to hold the Executive to account, as the majority of the motions on the Assembly’s first Opposition Day were on matters on which it has no control.

Today’s first Opposition Day in the Assembly saw motions brought on the impact on women of changes to the state pension and rural bank closures. Mrs Long said that while they were important issues, they were not putting the Executive under any pressure or scrutinising their performance.

“The matters debated today are worthy of debate as a regular Backbench Motion – indeed, I participated in debates in Westminster in my previous role as MP on motions concerning pension injustices facing women in particular.

“However, neither of these issues fall within the remit of the Executive. It begs the question as to why, on a much-vaunted first Opposition Day, the UUP and SDLP would bring motions which put the Executive under no pressure whatsoever.

“Opposition Days and Opposition itself is vital in the functioning of a democracy, holding to account those who make decisions on everyone’s behalf. By wasting opportunities to do that robustly today, the UUP and SDLP have fallen at the first hurdle.

“I am sure if this is the level of scrutiny they are capable of exerting over the Executive, none of the Executive Ministers will be quaking in their boots this evening. Thankfully, Alliance will continue to provide robust scrutiny of the Executive and to do so effectively.”

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