John McCallister: After 18 years of this Stormont, it’s time for real change

Stormont
Stormont

Almost two decades after the Belfast Agreement, Stormont should have the confidence to address the obvious failures in how the Assembly and Executive are working, John McCallister told MLAs.

Appealing for them to support his bill, the South Down independent said: “People out there are crying out for good governance and leadership. Yes, they want safeguards, but neither the bill nor any of the amendments does any damage to those safeguards and that protection.

“We should have the confidence, 18 years after the agreement, to move forward and change this.”

Stressing that his bill maintains the D’Hondt formula which guarantees the major nationalist and unionist parties places in government, he said: “It is important to note that at no point has anyone suggested that we move away from this and towards some type of majoritarianism.

“Some of the commentary, certainly at the committee stage, was incredibly ill-informed on that, instead of people actually reading what the bill said.”

Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy said he believed that Westminster, rather than the Assembly, was the best place to legislate for a Stormont opposition and he was downbeat about the prospects of Mr McCallister’s bill ever becoming law.

Mr Kennedy told MLAs that “private member’s bills have little or no chance of progressing to the statute book unless they are sponsored by members of the two largest parties”.