Stormont without opposition is absurd - Allister

TUV leader Jim Allister pictured at Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

TUV leader Jim Allister pictured at Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

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Government without opposition is absurd and undemocratic, TUV leader Jim Allister has said.

In his speech to the party’s annual conference in Cookstown on Saturday, the North Antrim MLA slammed what he described as the dismal failure of the disconnected power-sharing Stormont Executive.

“By demonstrating the effect even a one-man opposition can have, we have pushed this issue of democratic deficit up the agenda, with others now increasingly

conceding that the case for a democratic opposition is unanswerable,” he said.

Mr Allister vowed that his party would continue to be a thorn in the side of the DUP/Sinn Fein coalition and accused the smaller parties including the Ulster Unionists and SDLP of allowing themselves to be walked over.

He said: “The sooner the SDLP and UUP recognise they are doormats in government, rediscover their dignity and independence and step out to distinguish themselves in opposition, the sooner will this fundamental of democracy return to Stormont.”

During his speech, Mr Allister was scornful of the work done in the Assembly over the past year and said the Government was in need of drastic reform.

“Bloated with 108 MLAs when half would be enough,” he said. “Twelve departments when six would do, waste beyond belief on 161 spin doctors, £5 million on hospitality, £400,000 on photographers, an undisclosed sum on foreign travel and still £100 million to squander on useless north-south bodies and £20 million on a shrine at the Maze.

“Meanwhile, unemployment spirals upwards and all the DETI Minister (Arlene Foster) can assure us is that we’re not as bad as Dublin.”

Earlier in the speech Mr Allister claimed that Sinn Fein could do more to tackle the threat posed by dissident republicans who killed prison officer David Black.

The 52-year-old father of two was gunned down on the M1 as he drove to work at Maghaberry prison on November 1.

A new grouping calling itself the IRA has claimed responsibility for the shooting.

Mr Allister told delegates at the Royal Hotel: “This IRA murder was just as odious, just as hate-filled and just as deviant as those of their Provo blood brothers, for whom the reward was terrorists in government.

“Sinn Fein condemnations are meaningless so long as they fail to give up those their IRA trained who still practice their trade of murder - because the killers of David Black were no novices.”

The TUV leader also praised the Black family for their request that Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness should not attend the prison officer’s funeral.

Mr Allister said: “I salute the Black family for having the strength and courage to cut through the hypocrisy and pretence by telling McGuinness and Sinn Fein to stay away from the funeral. There is a message there for those who day and daily clutch Sinn Fein to their bosom in government in Stormont. Tough words don’t cut it when contradicted by actions that live by the mantra ‘what Sinn Fein wants, Sinn Fein gets’ in Stormont.”