The comments of Gordon Lyons (December 8) deserve a response.
He claims that the bill to reduce the number of Stormont departments represents “another step in reforming Stormont” yet this is the same Mr Lyons who, just two months ago, drew the short straw among DUP MLAs and was left to explain why his party was uniting with Sinn Fein/IRA to vote down Jim Allister’s Special Advisers Bill which would have cut both the number and salaries of special advisers at Stormont.
Mr Lyons was the only DUP MLA who sought to explain in the Assembly chamber why a bill which would have brought Northern Ireland more into line with Scotland and Wales should be voted down.
Let’s recall that Northern Ireland, the smallest of the devolved regions, has more Spads (19) than either Wales (8) or Scotland (14). Indeed, one department, the Office of the Joint First Ministers, will continue to have as many as the entire Welsh government!
These special advisers cost the Northern Ireland tax payer over £2 million a year.
Each Spad in Northern Ireland costs over £100,000 a year where as in Wales the average cost is £58,500 – a situation which will continue because of the opposition of the DUP and Sinn Fein/IRA to Jim Allister’s positive proposals.
Furthermore, what did the DUP policy on resignation and re-appointment achieve in terms of “reforming Stormont” when they simply resumed their partnership with republicans after a report was published with confirmed that the IRA retained arms, was involved in serious crime up to and including murder and Sinn Fein was controlled by the IRA Army Council?
Serious reform will not come from within the ranks of the DUP and UUP.
Both have had their chase and both have proven that they are wedded to the Belfast Agreement and its fundamentally flawed systems which have brought N.Ireland nothing but deadlock and failure.
TUV alone has published proposals in our Path to Making Stormont Work document which are serious about bringing the radical reform which are necessary to get devolution working.
Mr Lyons’s approach to the Special Advisers Bill illustrated that he and his party are an obstacle to reform.
Councillor Ruth Wilson, TUV Assembly candidate for East Antrim