Little point in extra Stormont sittings

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

We are clearly in an unprecedented situation and it will be essential that Stormont protects the best interests of Northern Ireland as the UK exits the EU.

However, I was astounded by the tone of the News Letter (June 29), it’s view that the Assembly entering a summer recess was the main issue to be commented upon and the level of deliberate misunderstanding of how parliamentary institutions work.

It is obviously very early days before the detailed implications of the referendum are known given the different interpretations of what leaving means, and the fact that it will be at least September, and following the election of a new Prime Minister, before the formal withdrawal process begins.

Additionally, surely the main work that has to be done at the moment is for Ministers and the departments of the Executive to explore options, make preparations and liaise with Whitehall. Therefore, I am perplexed as to what exactly would be achieved by additional sittings of the Assembly at this point.

Given the risks posed by uncertainty in this situation, clearly the last thing we need now is to hear more of politicians theorising on hypothetical proposals.

Of course, the Executive must urgently seek to reconvene the Assembly if it emerges that decisions need to, or can be, taken or scrutinised by the Assembly in the next two months but that seems unlikely. Indeed, in the light of some of the party political exchanges seen in the Assembly during its EU debate this week, it may well be a good thing for the Assembly to have some time and space before more of substance is clear.

I note that the Scottish Parliament also goes into recess this week and only debated the EU referendum result on Tuesday, a day after the NI Assembly, but there seems to be no criticism of inactivity by the Scottish Government. Finally, I was surprised that the front page of the News Letter spoke of a “Brexit Crisis” given that your publication editorially endorsed a “Leave” vote.

I respectfully look forward to seeing details of the plans and steps your paper must have expected at this point when you decided to recommend leaving the EU.

Ken Bingham, Belfast BT6