Long welcomes Government U-turn on double-jobbing and says DUP should fully commit to Assembly

Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has welcomed the UK Government’s U-turn after it confirmed it would not move an amendment to return double-jobbing, and added it is up to DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson to now commit fully to the Assembly.

The East Belfast MLA was speaking after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the controversial plans would be withdrawn, following an open letter by the majority of party leaders at the Assembly.

“I welcome the Prime Minister finally waking up and listening to the will of the overwhelming majority of people and parties in Northern Ireland,” said Mrs Long.

“Yesterday, I coordinated a joint letter to the Prime Minister from all of the Assembly parties and my colleague Andrew Muir MLA tabled a motion signed by all parties and independents, both opposing this retrograde move. Stephen Farry MP has worked with both Labour and the Lib Dems in Westminster to ensure they supported the views of the majority of people here on this issue. The result of those collective efforts is the Government was unlikely to have sufficient support to reintroduce dual mandates and so the amendment is to be withdrawn.

“However, this amendment should not have been moved in the first place. Double-jobbing is not only wrong but it’s impossible and does a disservice to the electorate. Given the high pressure and full-time nature of both jobs, they deserve the full attention of a full time representative. Those who proposed and backed this move, however well intentioned, are clearly out of touch with local public opinion. That was compounded by Government failing to consult with local parties before bringing this forward.

“As the only local party backing the potential return of double-jobbing, the question now needs to be asked of the DUP as to how serious they are about the Assembly. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson needs to affirm his commitment by removing his repeated threats to bring it down, focusing on his party doing what they were elected to do, and ensuring a new Executive is formed without delay post-election.”