NI Executive ‘no longer fit for purpose’, says Robinson

10 Sep 14
The devolution arrangements in Northern Ireland are no longer fit for purpose and need to be reformed, First Minister Peter Robinson has said.

By Richard Johnstone | 10 September 2014

The devolution arrangements in Northern Ireland are no longer fit for purpose and need to be reformed, First Minister Peter Robinson has said.

Robinson said the structures of devolution to Stormont, which mean decisions require cross-community agreement in the five-party coalition, made the functioning of government cumbersome, time-consuming and sluggish.

In an article for the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, Robinson said there should be no regrets about the 2006 St Andrews agreement, which restored devolution. However, he said it was always his view that these arrangements for the Northern Ireland Executive could only be a short-term solution.

‘In order to achieve this validation, wide participation and community guarantees were deemed more important than realising the most effective processes and the best government arrangements,’ he said.

‘Yet, we always recognised that compromising effectiveness and efficiency for sound and justified political expediency could not be a permanent feature. It is my view that the present arrangements are no longer fit for purpose.’

The weight of the issues to be resolved – which include cuts as a result of a lack of agreement over welfare reforms in the executive – was such that there was a need for a ‘St Andrews 2’.

‘I believe such steps are vital if we are to face the challenges of the future,’ he said.

‘We urgently need to take steps towards improving the operation of the democratic institutions and maintaining the respect and support of the electorate.’

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