Two years on, it is high time to take an axe to our failed system

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

After two years in which Northern Ireland has not had a government, it is surely time to move on.

TUV consistently said that the Stormont structures were bound to implode due to their disregard for basic democratic norms and we have been proved correct.

Northern Ireland needs to be governed. Shamefully the conduct of the lead Unionist party of government when it came to ‘Cash for Ash’ allowed Republicans to claim they crashed Stormont in the name of honesty and integrity.

With not even a pretence of seeking to get the Stormont show back on the road two years later, it is time we faced reality.

Root and branch change is essential if we are to obtain a durable, workable system of government and the least that such requires is the binning of mandatory coalition and its replacement with the normality of voluntary coalition and a functioning opposition.

People ask how Sinn Fein are able to hold the country to ransom in this fashion.

The answer is simple – mandatory coalition.

Under any democratic system if a party refused to form a government then one would be formed by the other parties. The Belfast Agreement grants Republicans, who have no interest in the survival of Northern Ireland anyway, a total veto over the formation of a government.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that those who cannot even say the name of Northern Ireland would use the power gifted to them under the Belfast and St Andrews Agreements to feed the narrative that we are “a failed political entity” by leaving us without a government.

The axe needs to be laid to the root of the problem – the unworkability and inevitable failure of mandatory coalition.

There is no point seeking to breath life into a system which has been dead for two years.

Even if it was to be resurrected it would only come back, like so many times before, in a zombie form which would stagger on until the next crisis brought it down.

There is an onus on everyone who wants to see Northern Ireland governed effectively for the good of all its people to move on from failure and recognise that the Belfast Agreement has not and never will work.

If that does not happen then there is an onus on Westminster to introduce direct rule.

Jim Allister MLA, leader of the TUV