The crisis over welfare reform at Stormont has “proved beyond any shadow of doubt the need for an official opposition at the Assembly”, according to Conservative Party spokesman, Johnny Andrews.
“In any other legislature, if the government manifestly fails to do the basic tasks of government, the opposition is invited to step up and do their job instead”, Johnny explained. “At Stormont the failure of the Executive to set a budget or agree policy on welfare is obvious, yet there is no mechanism to get rid of ministers, except by calling an election, which will not result in any meaningful change. Opposition structures would sort out this mess and normalise political debate in Northern Ireland.”
“There are other benefits of course, like the increased accountability it would enforce on the Executive and the greater democratic choice it affords voters. We support the private members bill on opposition, tabled by John McCallister and the Stormont House Agreement contained provisions allowing an opposition to be created. The current welfare impasse shows that this needs to happen sooner rather than later. Let’s see an official opposition at Stormont.”