In an interview with BBC News NI, Mrs Long said the device “shows the farce that is these structures”.
“I have been reconsidering my position – it would be hard to imagine anyone around the executive table with an ounce of sanity or scruples wouldn’t have reconsidered their position, in light of the debacle that took place this week,” she said.
“On balance, I still believe it is important that those of us who want to do our absolute best for people of Northern Ireland, and find a way through these difficult times, are still at that table trying at least to have influence – even if there are those who try to block us from having that influence through votes.”
The justice minister said she had warned before entering the executive in January 2020 about use of the cross-community vote, and continues to oppose it.
“I have asked people to desist from this abuse of power because it will make my position in the executive unsustainable,” said Mrs Long.
Big call for Naomi Long. Not since 2015, when Mike Nesbitt pulled the UUP out of the Executive has a party outside of the big two openly spoke about this. Opposition is difficult, because from memory looking back to January, Alliance didn’t have the numbers to make up the opposition in the Assembly. Not that it would matter. That’s all internal baseball for nerds like me to focus on. However, it’s important to remember that since 2017, this party has surged by rejecting the politics of dysfunction.
Alliance will benefit from taking a clear position and voting accordingly throughout the week. Trying to find compromise will play well and then taking on the process and the big gift handed to them by the DUP this week is another boon to their argument.
At the end of this week, the Executive is in a real crisis. Not because they disagree, everyone in Northern Ireland knows that they do. But because over the past few weeks this has all been played out over the media airwaves. As the public, we are told that we need to get back to basics in adhering to the health guidance but in a political sense this applies to the Executive too. They need to find a better way of disagreeing with one another in more private settings. Because the battle a day and use of the veto when it isn’t justified, crowds out the achievements being made on any fronts.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs