Future of democracy in Northern Ireland should not be held to ransom

Further to the various announcements which culminated in the stepping aside of the First Minister, Green Party leader Steven Agnew MLA said today, Thursday, 10 September 2015

“I am bitterly disappointed at the outcome of today’s events at Stormont.

“The continuing instability of the institutions can leave nobody in any doubt that changes are needed as to how our political institutions operate.

“People voted for local democracy and power sharing in 1998. Since then, a series of behind closed doors deals and inter-party agreements have undermined the democratic legitimacy of the governance structures in Northern Ireland.

“We need to learn from the failures of the secretive Haass talks and the Stormont House Agreement and engage citizens in a civic conversation to decide the future of democracy in Northern Ireland.

“I call on the Secretary of State to establish a process that brings in voices of both political parties and wider society with the ultimate aim of bringing forward proposals to review, reform and revitalise the Good Friday Agreement.

“Any proposals which arise must be put to the people of Northern Ireland via a referendum.

“We cannot continue to have the future of democracy in Northern Ireland held to ransom by parties watching their back due to a fear of loss of votes.”

Notes to editors

Models of civic conversation have been used elsewhere to good effect. For example, the Republic of Ireland held a Convention on the Constitution which brought together a cross section of society to debate and discuss a range of issues.

For example see: https://www.constitution.ie/Convention.aspx

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