The Ulster Unionist Party’s North Down MLA, Alan Chambers, has called for the Assembly and Executive to be reconvened temporarily so that Ministerial approval can be given for major outstanding decisions that civil servants do not have the power to act on.
Alan Chambers MLA said:
“As an MLA, I have been elected to legislate to improve the lives of everyone in Northern Ireland. However, over the last 18 months and counting, my colleagues and I have been unable to fulfil our legislative duties because of the collapse of Stormont.
“As a result, major - yet what should be straight forward – decisions requiring Ministerial sign-off, have been blocked in this country, and people have suffered for it and continue to suffer. Amongst the areas requiring action are hospital waiting lists and waiting times, school enrolment numbers, chaos in our public finances, provision of compensation for victims in the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, and the recent withdrawal of our bid to host the Commonwealth Youth Games in Northern Ireland.
“I would like to stress that civil servants are not to blame for the current problems in Northern Ireland. They are doing the best they can with the limited power they have to keep the country running on a day to day basis.
“The Secretary of State has offered little practical help and appears content to fall back on repeating her recently leaked briefing notes, that offer no short term comfort, or long term hope, to the people of Northern Ireland.
“I call on the two largest Parties to put aside their differences, at least temporarily, to rubber-stamp simple yet major decisions. I appreciate that legal experts may find some reasons why an Executive cannot be formed temporarily to deal with these problems, but surely compassionate common sense has to overrule bureaucratic legal hurdles if it can improve the lives of so many people?
“Currently there appears to be a charm offensive being carried out by the leaders of the DUP and Sinn Fein. Cynics have described these moves as gesture politics to improve their public image within targeted sections of the community. Surely a gesture to restore an Executive for a short time-limited period to clear the decks of outstanding issues would be a huge gesture, and one welcomed not just by sections of the community but by everyone in Northern Ireland. It could also make a permanent return of an Assembly easier to achieve and that is in all our interests.”