Is it time to perhaps end constituency-based voting for Stormont?

Regardless of the reasons behind the current deadlock at Stormont, I’ve been thinking since the Assembly elections in May about some of the more… uh, interesting results from that contest – like how the TUV vote went from over 20,000 in 2017 to nearly 66,000 in 2022 yet still returned only one seat – how is that either proportional or representative? I would consider myself a natural UUP supporter on the conservative-but-not-headbanger wing of unionism, but even I would have …

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The Assembly has been down for 40% of its history…

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Parliament_Buildings_Stormont.jpg

The local think tank Pivotal has released a new report: Governing Northern Ireland Without An Executive. From the press release: No Executive means inadequate government for Northern Ireland Northern Ireland has caretaker ministers but no government. A new report from Pivotal, the independent think tank focused on Northern Ireland, examines what Stormont ministers have been able to do since the Executive collapsed in February – and asks if this has addressed the problems facing local people. In the absence of …

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Cost of Living Crisis Will Revive Stormont…

shopping, spending, till slip

The Politics-Pausing Protocol The third attempt to restore Stormont was unsurprisingly unsuccessful. The same arguments on both sides of the protocol debate were played out as they have been over the months. However, as we know in politics, events take over. The cost of living crisis is one that affects us all. The protocol is undoubtedly an important issue within unionism that evokes much emotion. But we also have to eat, pay bills and have access to a healthcare system …

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The SDLP go into opposition at Stormont…

Following a very weak performance at the recent Assembly Elections, the SDLP have decided to do something dramatic to reverse their ailing fortunes. Today I have written to the Speaker of the Assembly to confirm that the SDLP will now be the Official Opposition to the deadlock and division of the Stormont administration. People were promised change in May’s election. As an Opposition, that’s what our team will deliver. pic.twitter.com/EOZs2JKpaj — Colum Eastwood 🇺🇦 (@columeastwood) July 25, 2022 From the …

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A reply to Mick’s Stormont reform article…

Stormont Estate, Belfast, N. Ireland

Stephen Stewart is a Faulknerite unionist currently living in exile from Norn Iron and proudly an analogue person in a digital age. I read with interest Mick’s recent article on possible reform of Stormont, and while it was rather short on possible ideas and suggestions over how to overhaul our clearly-dysfunctional political institutions whilst simultaneously staying within the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement, it nonetheless echoed much of what I’ve been thinking about for a while… and to it’s …

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Incoherence in Westminster is just as great as chaos in Stormont

To use a well known term from political science, we seem to be in a right bugger’s muddle. Brinkmanship is the order of the day. Wobbling on the cliff edge is Liz Truss the foreign secretary, threatening to bring in legislation to allow business to disregard EU rules on GB-NI trade as early as next week. She argues  that existing  EU concessions would “ make things worse.” It focuses on the fact that grace periods mean the protocol is not …

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The time is long overdue for taking to heart the lessons of the fall of the old Stormont

We thought we had learned them in 1998 but we hadn’t really, or not enough.  To find out why, we have to go back in time.  Just over 50 years ago, Brian Faulkner the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland rang WD Flackes BBC NI’s political correspondent from an outer office in 10 Downing Street to inform him that the game was up for the Stormont Parliament.  Billy’s scoop led the national 9 O’clock News.  Ted Heath had made Faulkner an …

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First Minister to Resign: early reports

Northern Ireland's First Minister Paul Givan intends to announce his resignation later today, BBC News NI understands https://t.co/3vqN2Wa2og — BBC News NI (@BBCNewsNI) February 3, 2022 Hot off the tail of DEARA minister Edwin Poots issuing a ministerial directive to halt all Irish sea checks, it is being widely reported that the First Minister, Paul Givan, is to resign today. Under the rules of our mandatory coalition this means that deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill, will also lose her post. …

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Failed candidates, don’t give up on your Assembly dream…

northern ireland, stormont, parliament

Selecting an Assembly candidate can be a fraught and tense business for many local associations but what does it feel like to be an unsuccessful contender? On Tuesday last I had the pleasure of putting my name forward to be the next Alliance Party candidate for the forthcoming Assembly elections. It turned out to be a hugely rewarding experience even though the result did not necessarily go my way. More generally, I believe that we should explore how unsuccessful candidates …

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North Down MLA Alex Easton resigns from the DUP…

Jeffrey Donaldson is only into the job of DUP leader for a few hours and already his unruly colleagues are giving him trouble. Alex Easton said he will stand as an independent in the next election. He said: “I’ve given 21 years of my life to the DUP, sometimes to the detriment of my health & well-being. It has been extremely lonely at times for me, & few have cared how I have felt.” I have had to stand back …

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Stormont crisis averted. Until the next crisis…

So to no great surprise to anyone, Sinn Fein and the DUP have agreed to fudge the issue of the Irish Language Act. They have run to colonial daddy to implement the legislation for them at Westminster. BBC News: NI ministerial nominations due as Stormont stand-off ends BBC News – NI ministerial nominations due as Stormont stand-off endshttps://t.co/ybxWhPftU5 A Secretary of State intervenes to save the Assembly at Sinn Fein's behest. Now we've seen it all. — Brian Walker (@bwalker347) …

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Stormont’s economic forecasts and the 2022 Assembly election provide the opportunity for a different approach.

By Philip Wilson Amid the furore of recent weeks, a recent Finance Committee slipped under the radar with some interesting facts about the future of Northern Ireland’s economy. Stormont’s financial settlement for this financial year is something of an aberration as overall expenditure has risen from last year’s £24 million to £28 million for this year. Much of this must be credited to the willingness of the Treasury and Bank of England to go above and beyond in their COVID-related …

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Border Poll: Take Stormont off the table

Strand one was the name given to the collective socio-legal structures of devolution and inter-community governance in Northern Ireland as part of the Good Friday Agreement. Unlike the North-South Ministerial Council (strand two) or the British-Irish council (strand three) it is the part of the agreement most relevant to and most recognised by the NI population. At its heart strand one is beyond the structural concerns of the Assembly and Executive, it is about the principle of subsidiarity so that …

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Assembly Commission amend 2016 determination with improvements for staff wages.

The Northern Ireland Assembly Commission has published a new determination which amends the determination taken in 2016. This is what governs how the staff costs for MLAs and other associated costs with running an office. The headline from the latest determination is that salaries of staff members working for MLAs are set to rise. This change brings staff employed by MLAs into line with other staff members in the Assembly. Grade one staff will see their starting salary rise from …

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Pounds, shillings and pence: Stormont’s Fiscal Council…

I have before written about the idea of a fiscal council for Northern Ireland which was first mooted in the Stormont House Agreement. When the new decade new approach agreement was published there contained a solid commitment to the establishment of this crucial mechanism. The post war Labour government who established the NHS were committed to ending the regional disparities in relief which had become stark in the nineteenth century. Across Britain and Ireland there was an old system of …

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The obligatory post about the latest Stormont crisis…

ANOTHER crisis at Stormont? I suppose it’s another sign that we are getting back to normality. Plus ça change… I can’t think of anything to say on the issue that you have not heard a million times before, so I will leave it up to you to give your take in the comments. In other news, I see Paddy Raff has gotten himself a new show with the BBC, well done to him. The first post-lockdown pint didn’t go quite …

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Interview: Jim Allister MLA talks about his Special Advisors bill…

Next Monday the Northern Ireland assembly order paper will contain a private members bill from one of the few non-government party MLAs in the chamber. That member is Jim Allister. His tenure in politics spans decades and he has been present over the course of many political changes including the function or dysfunction of local institutions, he issued a challenge to the Assembly members: “if people are serious about cleaning up this place then they should have nothing to fear …

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To build good relations in Northern Ireland, they must also exist inside the Executive. Is this even possible?

It’s been a slow start to Stormont. As you might expect there’s been some things that could be actioned quickly (like pay parity for the nurses) on matters which were bound up in the negotiations. On Monday the business of agreeing to unanimously to reject Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Bill was delayed by an hour after Jim Allister raised a point of order objecting to the fact that the motion being voted on could not be amended by Assembly and was …

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Last chance saloon…

On talkback this week there was a fair but cutting analysis of the many manoeuvrings of the 1990s to bring about the peace settlement and the near universal condemnation of how its inheritors in today’s politics have failed at the mission statement set out at this time. Brian Rowan quotes sources calling it a ‘last chance’ for Stormont to prove that it can actually work. For if an institution fails in its adoption of rules of change it becomes finite. …

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Arlene Foster and Leo Varadkar must do business together on Brexit after last night’s ice breaker

The most important thing that Arlene Foster has just done is to talk to Leo Varadkar for the first time in ages. This was a meeting that was apparently kept under wraps until it had happened.  Only a short time before, the Dublin government were saying they were hoping for a meeting “soon.” This brief encounter  opens up the possibility of genuine north-south cooperation to help hammer out an agreement on the border – and perhaps the Assembly – that …

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