Stormont strait-jacket for those outside DUP/Sinn Féin majority rule
LONDONDERRY UUP member Terry Wright has slammed Sinn Féin for its ‘totalitarian tendencies’ and accused the party of exercising ‘majority rule’ over those struggling to make themselves heard outside the Sinn Féin/DUP power bloc.
Mr Wright, who is Chairman of the Foyle UUP Association, said the debate on the need for a formal opposition at Stormont was not going to go away as long as it operated “on the whim of the Sinn Féin and DUP Coalition.”
He claimed the ‘shut-out tactics’ of the two main parties betrayed the ethics of the Belfast Agreement which was meant to unify.
Mr Wright made the comments after First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness rounded on the Secretary of State Owen Paterson over remarks he had made in Dublin concerning a lack of progress in creating a shared society here.
The Londonderry UUP man said Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness have “difficulty in dealing with any view different to their own which may result in their being held accountable for their actions and policies.”
He also said that despite rhetoric from Mr McGuinness ‘majority rule’ was alive and well at Stormont.
“The Deputy First Minister says there will be no return to majority rule at Stormont. Since this is the case at present one can only assume Martin means any majority of which he is not a part or within which he can exercise a veto on his coalition partner,” said Mr Wright.
“It is a stance not out of keeping with Sinn Féin’s totalitarian tendencies. Where they once silenced the opposition with bullets, Sinn Féin now uses intermittent bullying and premeditated veto. Charm and the occasional handshake is also in their armoury.”
Remarkably, Mr Wright went on to suggest that the political process arising from the Belfast Agreement had become a strait-jacket for those outside of the DUP and Sinn Féin.
“The political process which was conceived as a life-jacket for democracy in 1998, has without review, become a strait-jacket for those parties which struggle to make themselves heard from outside the Sinn Féin-DUP power bloc.
“It was a process for conflict resolution. Is it the case that for the DUP and Sinn Fein the conflict which they mutually exploited for electoral purposes goes on but is now managed to keep them in power?” he asked.
He went on to accuse the DUP of “adopting an increasingly lazy and fuzzy sense of Unionist identity.”
He said they DUP and Sinn Féin govern by “sectarian trade-off and populist policies,” which will create a “shared but shallow future defined by occasional outbreaks of adversarial venom but mostly by their willingness to now tolerate and mutually benefit each other to the exclusion of everyone else.”
Mr Wright said the guarantee of office amounted to “a rule without any quality control or moral compass” and that this was not what the electorate had signed up to.
He said the democracy envisoned in in 1998 had become degenerative and that review was overdue.
“Whilst promoting review and development, those who are excluded need to lift the veil on the delusion that they have a participatory role and re-engage, through virtual opposition with an increased emphasis on enhancing the performance of the whole Assembly,” he said.
“It will be about greater challenge and critique but will create a dynamic where there will be a more honest accountability to the electorate.
“It will be about offering an alternative and better way and seeking a mandate to replace the cynical hold on government which the DUP and Sinn Féin seek to perpetuate.
“It will be about MLAs living up to the highest of expectations and not the lowest. The bar of standards that the electorate expects from representatives will be raised as those who have become sceptical and disenchanted find a voice,” he concluded.
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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