David Trimble, in his current role as Conservative peer, has suggested that the NI Assembly could function in the absence of an executive (RTÉ report):
Speaking as peers considered emergency legislation to extend talks on restoring devolved government in Northern Ireland, Mr Trimble said the problem at present was forming an executive.
“Well, is an executive absolutely necessary?” he added.
“I would look to what happened with devolution in Wales in its first phase, where there was a corporate assembly without an executive, which functioned and functioned, I think, reasonably effectively.”
Mr Trimble said this system operated for six or seven years before the assembly decided to move to an executive.
He added: “That assembly could continue to function and it would be able to move to having an executive the moment that the parties that presently won’t nominate for an executive shows a willingness to do so.”
David Alderdice, a former leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, said he supported the proposals.
This echoes the Soapbox article by Paul Gosling on 20 Jan:
direct rule ministers should be held accountable by a working Assembly. There is no reason for the Assembly to not be operational, just because the Executive cannot function.