Unhappy anniversary for victims, says Dickson

The Fresh Start Agreement is on life support one year after it was signed, Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has said.

East Antrim MLA Mr Dickson said the deal, which will mark its first anniversary tomorrow (Thursday) had “left victims in limbo” by not resolving their issues, which was still a problem a year later. Among the agreed measures between the DUP and Sinn Fein was to introduce changes to the petition of concern mechanism, addressing flags and parades, and tackling paramilitarism.

“Alliance did not fully endorse the so-called Fresh Start Agreement, mainly due to its inability to comprehensively deal with the needs of victims and their families. Instead it was used for self-praise by the DUP and Sinn Fein. One year on, victims remain without resolution and yet the Executive continues to pretend this deal was ground-breaking.

“Fresh Start was a short-term fix to enable another limp down the road until another crisis, instead of being what it should have been – a deal to resolve the blockages and place Northern Ireland’s future on as secure a footing as possible. Since it has been signed, we have seen the DUP refuse to even discuss changing the petition of concern veto and happily pose alongside self-confessed paramilitary commanders, at the same time as the UK Government branded their action plan on paramilitarism as without enough detail to secure funding.

“The patchwork so-called Fresh Start deal helped save devolution from collapse in the short-term but long-term it will not place the institutions on a sustainable basis, never mind offer the true fresh start Northern Ireland needs.”

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