Ulster Unionist leader, Steve Aiken OBE MLA, has given his support to Jim Allister`s Functioning of Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill which is being debated in the Northern Ireland Assembly today.
Mr Aiken said:
“Jim Allister`s Bill is a necessary measure to restore a degree of confidence in the Northern Ireland Executive which has been much diluted.
“Those who had hoped that after a three year hiatus in the Assembly caused by calamitous administration, very questionable practices and the failure to adhere to the custom and practice of government elsewhere in our nation, that there would be at least a collective desire to reform from within the Executive, will have been sadly let down.
“The experience and evidence of the RHI inquiry showed that not only was there a great and overwhelming need to see reform, but the ‘lived’ experience that we have seen since January of this year has shown us that any belief that change will be embraced by the Executive, is a forlorn hope. The Executive has shown little or no attempt to reform itself. It has been thwarted by some of the political parties who should be willing to embrace change the most.
“It is our firm belief that without a legislative imperative, no change will occur. Northern Ireland politics is too fragile to be left to ‘best practice & behaviour’ when clearly in Northern Ireland, it is anything but.
“The crux of the issues is whether there is a need for legislation, or whether codes and guidance are sufficient, or indeed, preferable? We believe that change should be legislated for and that`s why the Ulster Unionist Party will be supporting the Bill.
“The Stormont culture has not changed and is highly unlikely to change unless it is forced to do so. We need to restore confidence and trust in Government in Northern Ireland and this Bill can help do that.”