Ulster Unionist Leader, Mike Nesbitt MLA, has challenged Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness to support his call for a Referendum on the changes that his Party made to the 1998 Belfast Agreement, which itself was endorsed by the people of Northern Ireland in a Referendum.
Mr Nesbitt said:
“Martin McGuinness is calling for a Referendum on same sex marriage. I acknowledge this is a very important issue for those who wish to have that option in their lives, but it directly impacts very few of our citizens. What impacts on everyone are the significant changes Martin McGuinness and others have made to the Belfast Agreement without reference back to the people.
“I can support a Referendum in principle, but if we are going to ask the people to go to the trouble of voting on a specific issue, why not take the opportunity to ask a number of questions? Do the people endorse those changes to the Belfast Agreement? Do they want a single education system? Do they want devolution crashed rather than resolve the impasse on welfare reform? Do they want an Official Opposition at Stormont, which, by the way, is already a failure in terms of the Stormont House Agreement, given the Agreement states that the issue of opposition should have been resolved by the end of March.
“Beyond that, if we wish to focus on public policy matters, what about abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty?
“Under those circumstances, I would be content that we ask the people directly for their views on same sex marriage. But is Martin McGuinness democratic enough to agree to broaden out the issues the public can tell us about?”