Former NI21 chair calls for ‘joint authority’ over NI

Tina McKenzie pictured at the 2014 count for that year's European elections, when she stood as a candidate but failed to be elected
Tina McKenzie pictured at the 2014 count for that year's European elections, when she stood as a candidate but failed to be elected

The former chairwoman of the short-lived moderate unionist party NI21 has called for a form of joint-authority for Northern Ireland.

Tina McKenzie, speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s TalkBack, called for a “citizen’s group” consisting of experts from various fields to be overseen by “the British and Irish Governments as co-guarantors.”

“I’m not in favour of Direct Rule solely from London,” she said. “I think Northern Ireland, because of the history, we need a different approach. “I would be more in favour of having something like a senate or a citizens, and I know we’ve had them before, but a citizens’ group.”

She continued: “You know if you had your health specialists along with your education specialists, your business specialists, your community specialists, your trade union representatives, in a group, we’d be making decisions about this place.”

Asked if she meant “a kind of joint authority”, Ms McKenzie replied: “Absolutely. Yes, joint authority.”

The former NI21 chair and European election candidate continued: “We’ve got to look at all options now. We can laugh if we like about the fact that, oh yes, the unionists aren’t going to like any influence from Dublin. I’m sorry, we’ve passed that point. That influence is there. That was agreed many moons ago from the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

“And, ultimately, the nationalists don’t want unionist majority rule but, ultimately we are where we are.

“I know that’s slightly changed with the recent elections but London has a say, Dublin has a say.”

She added: “And, actually, if we can get some sort of a citizen’s group up and running that actually are less worried about the colour of the flag on top of a building and more worried about our citizens’ health, education and future, we’d be happy.”