Beyond the deadline?

I don’t think that he’s one of the optimists Henry McDonald referred to, but in the Belfast Telegraph Brian Walker produces an intriguing twist to the November 24th deadline. According to his report, “although this interim Assembly can be wound up on November 24, the Assembly suspended on October 2003 remains technically in being.” Which could leave open the possibilty of another chapter even if the book is officially closed…Briajn Walker notes that Peter Hain declined to pass on any actual powers to the interim Assembly or to change the deadline itself, arguing that it’s an attempt to leave the MLAs with only one decision to make. But he also suggests that the loop-hole exists for the earlier Assembly to return –

Mr Hain had already turned down giving the Assembly veto powers over his reforms on the grounds “it would confuse accountability to Westminster”.

The real reason, though, is to deny MLAs any outlet of achievement short of making a deal. Another plain fact is that although this interim Assembly can be wound up on November 24, the Assembly suspended on October 2003 remains technically in being.

Whatever ministers may say, this week’s tortuous Commons manoeuvres show that ways can always be found to revive it.

All very confusing, which is why Sylvia Hermon wanted the Assembly of May 15 to be called a “forum”. But like everybody else, she was turned down.

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