Alliance Party General Secretary, Stephen Farry, has claimed that the current SDLP position on accountability is failing to serve the interests of nationalists, and could potentially leave a DUP Minister of Justice unchallenged.
Dr Farry stated:
“Are the SDLP becoming the new DUP? The current intransigence of the SDLP in light of overwhelming logic is stunning?
“It is inevitable that the DUP would have a major part in any restored administration. The SDLP campaign in the last Assembly election to ‘Stop the DUP’ failed abysmally. Surely, they should now be trying to ensure that future DUP ministers are not allowed to do much damage within their ministerial portfolios, against the interests of nationalists and the whole community.
“The SDLP seem to be satisfied with a system where nationalist ministers can have a large degree of control over their Departments, in exchange for unionists a similar level of control over their ones.
“Even the two Governments have conceded that under the present arrangements, there was substantial scope for ministers to take decisions without reference to other interests in society.
“This is not power-sharing, but a carve-up. Unionists have as much interest in issues in agriculture and higher education as nationalists have in regional development or the environment. Do the SDLP not want to be able to hold a possible future DUP Minister of Justice to account?
“Alliance proposals on the structures would improve accountability and power-sharing without giving any party a veto. It is not enough for other Ministers and Assembly members to be able to ask questions, there must be some means of exercising a challenge.
“There is substantial room for making improvements to the Agreement within the parameters of its fundamental principles. The sooner the SDLP come down from the hook where they have placed themselves then the better for not only nationalists but for everyone.”