The SDLP’s suggestion that the Irish and British governments should jointly run Northern Ireland if power-sharing collapses has been dismissed as “kite flying of no substance” by TUV leader Jim Allister.
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said there can be no return to the days of direct rule from British ministers alone if the institutions at Stormont fail to be re-established after an election.
The Foyle MLA said, in that scenario, joint authority between the Irish and British Governments was “the only acceptable position for the nationalist community”.
He added that this was particularly important within the context of Brexit.
Mr Eastwood was speaking yesterday ahead of a meeting with NI Secretary James Brokenshire. The SDLP leader is also holding a series of meetings in Dublin today, where he will make a case for joint authority.
However, TUV leader and barrister Jim Allister saidthere could be no joint authority under NI’s constitutional arrangements.
The north Antrim MLA added: “Constitutionally we are and will remain part of the UK and if devolution falls we will, as would happen anywhere else in the UK, revert to government from the centre, Westminster.
“Anything else would be constitutional change for which there would be no consent and even within the supposed spirit of the Belfast Agreement there has to be consent to constitutional change.
“This would be fundamental constitutional change, contradicting our position as part of the UK and therefore would require consent which would not be given.”
Mr Allister said Stormont required “fundamental change”, adding: “People are fed up.
“The perpetual cycle of crisis, then sticking plaster talks, before lurching to crisis again, is destroying the body politic and public confidence in it. It is time for fresh thinking.”